Volunteer of the Week: Mary Sharkey, of Niles

Mary Sharkey and her husband, Karl, a retired teacher, volunteer by reading to students at Ellis Elementary School in Niles.

What do you do as a volunteer at Ellis?

Karl and Mary Sharkey.

Karl and Mary Sharkey.

We help the first graders with reading. We go in once a week every Wednesday morning and read with the ones who need help keeping up with their reading.

We’ve been doing it for probably eight years. We just love children and decided we would go in and see if they needed any help in the classroom. There is always somebody who is a little bit behind in their reading so we wanted to take the opportunity to go in and help with that.

How do you help the children?

We go over the books and help them read if they are behind. We are there for about an hour.

What is the most rewarding part about volunteering?

Working with the kids. They are so sweet and innocent in the first grade. It is very rewarding for us to go in and be with the young people.

Everybody benefits from a one-on-one situation. It is very rewarding to know you have made a difference in someone’s life.

Do you do any other volunteer work?

I go in every other week to the Ronald McDonald House at Memorial Hospital in South Bend. I help set up the room where the parents stay when they have a child in the pediatrics or in the oncology ward. I usually go around with a cart to the wards and hand out treats to the kids.

I also help prepare funeral dinners for St. Mary’s Catholic Church. It is for the families of the deceased.

Sometimes I help with feeding the homeless with the Episcopalian Church. My best friend directs that so I go in and help with that also.

Why do you choose to volunteer?

I enjoy it. I think if you get out in the community and work with other people you don’t think about yourself all the time. It is very rewarding when you are helping people.

Why is it important to volunteer?

There are so many organizations and so many people in need in the community. I think it is good for people to get out and help where they can.

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