Samaritans search for compassionate volunteers

Posted in: News
By Todd Brooks
Sep 27, 2012 - 8:44:52 AM

SAMARITAN VOLUNTEERThe Marlow Samaritans are well-known for helping those in need. Now, the organization is looking for a little help itself – with volunteers.
The organization is in dire need of caseworkers. “The people who come here need to be evaluated in a home situation, and that is what a caseworker does,” Samaritan secretary Sandy Chatfield said. “Right now, we can’t do that.”
The main qualification to be a caseworker has nothing to do with education or work background.
“You have to have compassion,” Chatfield said. “You have to listen and understand, and you have to be articulate in speech and writing what you have observed.
“You have to be able to tell when someone is lying. Ninety-five percent of the people who seek help from us truly need help, but there are some that don’t.”
The Samaritans need people to answer phones and help in other areas as well.
“We just don’t have enough workers,” Chatfield said. “We have on-the-job training for everything we do.”
A core group of about 14 people work at the United Way-funded agency. Tuesday is when manpower is needed to haul in food bank supplies. The clothing store’s volunteers work on Wednesday to separate and stock clothing for Friday’s store hours. Wednesday is also food-bank day for people to come and pick up food.
“If we could even have people be on a call list where they could come within an hour when they are called, it would be a big help,” Samaritans vice-president Carolyn Lowe said.
Some help has come from CESI and city hall, and the Marlow High School student council is sending students for Wednesday’s food distribution.
“Over 50 percent of our clients are past retirement age,” Lowe said. “It’s good for them to see young people willing to help out.”
“It’s also good for the young people to see how they are well-blessed with what they have, and it gives them a different outlook on life,” Chatfield added.
There is not a large commitment of time needed to help out.
“We don’t need people to work every day, no one here does, but we need volunteers who are willing to work week in and week out,” Chatfield said.
Even though there is a need for volunteers, the organization is extremely happy with the community support it receives.
“The community has been so wonderful to us with their suggestions and time,” Lowe said. “We could have never been able to have a regional food bank without a building. Through grants and donations, we are debt-free. Donors can be confident that money given is being used for what it is supposed to.
“We are a United Way agency and we get one-third of our funding from them, and the rest comes from the community. And we have been blessed. We’ve had our refrigerators, freezers, and a copy machine all donated.”
“The only overhead we have is the utility bill and insurance. Everyone who works here is a volunteer.”
Volunteers come from every walk of life and different backgrounds.
Currently, people picking up food come down the alley behind the new city hall. Once city hall functions are moved to the new location, a new route will have to be found since the city’s drive-through window will be there.
“The city has been so good to us,” Lowe said. “We thought we were going to have to re-route people earlier this year when the alley was blocked, but the city had it flattened out and put gravel down so that we wouldn’t have to do that.”
The food pickup is one of the main ways the organization gets to know people.
“When I first started working here, we were just putting food in people’s cars and saying, ‘See you later,’” Chatfield said. “But now, we talk with them to find out how we can help. A lot of these people are on the lowest rung financially, and can’t afford to pay for everything. They live check-to-check and if a car repair or a medical expense comes up, they can’t afford it. People have minimum-wage jobs or don’t get that much retirement, and they just can’t pay for everything.
“We try to find out how they need help and try to help them better utilize the money they have,” she continued.
Those interested in volunteering or getting more information about the services provided by the Marlow Samaritans can call 580-658-5771.
A message can be left, or callers between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. on Monday, Wednesday or Friday, can talk to a volunteer.