When a pebble is dropped into the ocean, it causes a ripple effect. That is the metaphor Meg Underwood used to describe the effect the work done by the nearly 200 volunteers at the Pilgrim Senior Center has during the annual Volunteer Appreciation Lunch yesterday afternoon. Only about half of the Center’s volunteers were able to attend the celebration, which many look forward to each year, but the sentiment remained the same.
“It really goes beyond picking up a phone and scheduling someone to come in and have their taxes done,” said Underwood. “Everything you do truly has a ripple effect, enhancing the life of not just the community here at Pilgrim Senior Center, but the entire community of Warwick.”
Underwood said the Center holds the appreciation lunch every year, but it is not enough to repay the volunteers for the invaluable service they provide.
“We literally could not open the doors to the Center without all that they do,” said Underwood.
Warwick Mayor Scott Avedisian also came out to the event to give his thanks and introduce the afternoon’s speaker, Ward 3 Councilwoman Camille Vella-Wilkinson.
“No matter what agency we talk about in Warwick, they wouldn’t get their job done, or get it done the way they do, without all of you [volunteers],” said Avedisian. “It all adds to the quality of life we have here in Warwick.”
Avedisian said each year the city compiles a report on the number of volunteer hours performed at various agencies, and, using the prevailing wage, a dollar-equivalent to the time given is calculated. The latest result was $3 million in time given to agencies by volunteers.
“We don’t even get $3 million in state aid anymore,” pointed out Avedisian.
Vella-Wilkinson, who Avedisian praised for her consistent volunteer efforts, especially those on behalf of her fellow veterans, praised the group for giving of their time to make an impact.
“A lot of people have access, not a lot have impact,” said Vella-Wilkinson. “These are people truly having an impact here in Warwick and in other communities.”
The councilwoman recalled the legacy left to her by her grandmother and mother, who always said they were the richest family in the neighborhood because they gave of their time to volunteer throughout the neighborhood in a multitude of ways.
“We in the city are rich beyond words because of what you do today and every day,” said Vella-Wilkinson.
Following the speeches, a lunch of party pizza, calzones and more was served while singer Jim Porcella provided the afternoon’s entertainment.