04/08/07 — Volunteer of the Year shares gift of her time

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Volunteer of the Year shares gift of her time

By Bonnie Edwards
Published in News on April 8, 2007 2:01 AM

Cornelia Grundmeier has been behind the counter at the Community Soup Kitchen for more than 10 years -- once choosing to seek a part-time job rather than give up her weekly volunteer work.

That's how important her work there is to her -- and that is why she was recently named Volunteer of the Year by the organization's board of directors.

Mrs. Grundmeier and her husband, Kevin, would just help out during the holidays to give the regular volunteers at the Community Soup Kitchen some time to be with their families.

But before long, after she was laid off work, Mrs. Grundmeier decided not to take a chance on not being able to continue volunteering. She decided to look for a part-time position.

About three years ago, she added a Meals On Wheels route.

"I've never had any problems delivering. It's very rewarding," Mrs. Grundmeier said.

She still works part-time -- as long as her employers understand that she needs Tuesdays and Fridays to spend with "her people." Luckily, her temporary agency has assigned her to Wiggins Real Estate and Academics Plus, which happily accept her volunteer obligations.

Her volunteer work includes more than just food. She goes grocery shopping for those on her route, waters their plants and visits them when they go to the hospital.

She has become attached to the people she serves food to on Fridays and the homebound seniors she brings lunch to on Tuesdays.

Mrs. Grundmeier is no slacker when it comes to her volunteer work, either, Soup Kitchen director Dorecia Benton said.

"She goes above and beyond what is asked of her, whether it's in the kitchen or in the office," said Ms. Benton.

She said Mrs. Grundmeier supported her in her daily office routine at the Soup Kitchen while Ms. Benton dealt with the illness and loss of her father.

"I tell her often how I appreciate that," she said. "She gave me that time."

Mrs. Grundmeier's route is supposed to take about an hour. She spends two.

She socializes, especially with the last stop on her route. The man she serves lost his wife a couple of months ago. She and Kevin visit him on the weekends, too, and bring him food. They encourage him to sit in the sun with them.

"I'm in my comfort zone when I'm on the (serving) line or delivering meals," said Mrs. Grundmeier, who also volunteers at Cherry Hospital on occasion. "The main thing you can give people is your time. Your time is priceless, a most precious gift."