April is Child Abuse Prevention Month. Unfortunately, in Yankton County last year, the Southeast CASA Program saw a drastic increase in the number of children who were affected by abuse or neglect. Fortunately, our community is filled with passionate volunteers who are invested in better outcomes for local children.
Southeast CASA and United Way Big Friend Little Friend Volunteer, Peg Wittmeier, was awarded the United Way & Volunteer Services’ Volunteer of the Month award; in honor of her countless hours and energy dedicated to protecting the best interests of children in our community.
Southeast CASA Case Manager, Crystal Gemar, who nominated Wittmeier for the award states, “Peg is a selfless individual, who has a huge heart and wants what is best for others, her commitment to youth is inspiring.”
Wittmeier was surprised with this honor surrounded by her colleagues at First National Bank. “Peg is truly and asset to youth in our community, and her service as a youth mentor in Big Friend Little Friend has had a very powerful and positive effect on her mentee,” stated United Way Community Impact Director, Tara Bartekoske. “Mentoring guarantees young people that there is someone who cares about them and makes them feel like they matter, and Peg’s caring and passionate personality is vital to this critical program.”
We asked Peg to share, in her own words, more about her volunteer efforts.
I was born in Rapid City and moved to Yankton in 1955.
I began volunteering in junior high school as a “pink lady” at the hospital about 1967. This experience “hooked” me on volunteering, and I have been volunteering since in some capacity.
I continue volunteering because I believe it is everyone’s privilege to help others through this life with the gifts that have been given to them by God.
I volunteer at Big Friend/Little Friend—a big friend to a wonderful young man, CASA—I research and prepare reports for the court to advocate for children who have been removed from the home due to abuse and/or neglect, Discovery Church—currently on the Pastoral Search Team where we review applicants for the Pastor position, interview and complete the selection process, Discovery Church—Women’s Ministry Team where we plan and carry out Christian events for the women of our church and the community. Discovery Church—Nursery Worker and Vacation Bible School. I try to volunteer as asked with meals, gathering supplies and promoting fundraisers for Pathways.
I really don’t keep track of the hours as volunteering has become a part of my life, but I would guess I volunteer approximately 300 hours per year.
Volunteer work is enjoyable because it makes me feel good. I can give back some of the many blessings that have been given to me. I have found that when I am feeling blue doing something good for someone else is the best “pick-me-up”.
It is hard to pick my best volunteer experience as I’ve had many. I have learned so much through volunteering that each experience has been “the best” in some way.
The advice I would give to those thinking about getting out there and volunteering in their communities is to JUST DO IT! There are so many different agencies that could use your gifts. Stop wondering what you should do or what you should try and Just Do It. Something will rise to the top that will make you feel incredible!
For more information on local volunteer opportunities, or to nominate a Volunteer of the Month, visit www.yanktonunitedway.org/volunteer, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call (605)665-6766.