Volunteer of the Week: Susie Gendron, Dowagiac Elks
Susie Gendron, of Lawrence, Michigan, is a volunteer with the Dowagiac Elks Lodge. She became a member last November and since then has helped with an array of tasks, including serving as the chairperson for Breakfast with Santa and helping with the Wooden Nickel Program. Outside of volunteering, Gendron works for the Van Burn Intermediate School District as a family educator.
How did you get involved with the Dowagiac Elks Lodge?
Friends of mine [encouraged me to go] and I had started working there in the golf room and bar area as well. It is just a really great organization, where I have made a lot of friends. I really appreciate what they do for the community and for kids and veterans, because those are both near and dear to my heart.
Servicemen and women give so much to our country that I enjoy giving back to them. It is not a burden for me to give back to them. It is a joy for me to give back to them.
I work with special needs children through my job with the Van Buren school district and I teach parenting skills and child development, so that is something that is near and dear to my heart. I found out that the Elks also work with a lot of special needs programs, like the Spring Fling which is the prom for the special needs kids. It is just something that is a positive way to give back in a society that has been very negative right now.
What is your favorite part about volunteering with the Elks?
Definitely Breakfast with Santa. This year we were able to have between 175 to 200 people [attend], we estimated. We were able to reach community members that otherwise would not have had the opportunity to have the Santa experience with their children and it really gave me a lot of joy to give back to them.
We were able to provide a breakfast of pancakes and sausages. We provided Santa Claus. We had cookie decorating and different activities that kids could make ornaments and write letters to Santa. It was a really positive experience for a lot of families. It is just unexplainable how much joy that gives me.
It was free to everybody. It was a responsibility I took very seriously, because I wanted to do a good job to the people of Cass County.
We have a really good team of volunteers. If it was not for our amazing team, we would not be able to do the good that we do.
How do you feel the Elks Lodge helps the Dowagiac community?
[They help] in a lot of different ways. Partnering with the chamber has been a great collaboration. I think the more relationships we can build throughout the community, the more good we can do as well.
Why would you encourage others to volunteer with the Elks Lodge?
It seems like these days so much everything is all about me or you. It is so individualized and I think we need to bring things back to the community again, in order to move forward and stop the negativity. By doing things for our vets and doing things for our kids, it is such a positivity to do those things. When you can find positive in your life, it is a lot harder to be a negative person. When you are a better person, you are happier.
Do you know a volunteer worthy of recognition? Nominate him or her as the Volunteer of the Week by calling the newsroom at (269) 687-7720, or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
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