United Way Volunteer of the Month Joyce Werntgen: Service Is A Life-Long Commitment
Service is a life-long commitment, and our central Vermont community is lucky to have many stewards of that service. One of those stewards is Joyce Werntgen. She has been volunteering at the Vermont Center for Independent Living (VCIL) since her retirement in 2015. Joyce’s volunteer service started with a fondness for the organization, a natural curiosity about volunteering, and the desire to continue to serve her community even after retirement.
Joyce’s job before she retired was as a full-time employee for VCIL which made it easy for her to jump in and immediately begin helping. VCIL works to ensure that individuals with disabilities live with dignity and the support they need to remain in their homes. When she worked for the organization, Joyce was trained in multiple areas of the agency, including in their Home Access Program, which provides home entry and bathroom accessibility modifications for low-income Vermonters with physical disabilities. Because of her breadth of knowledge about variety of functions and areas, Joyce is now able to help the organization with whatever they need—database maintenance, phone calls, office work, and more. She also continues to work in the Home Access Program ensuring more Vermonters get access to the accessibility modifications they need!
Aside from her previous knowledge of the organization, Joyce was drawn to volunteer for VCIL for several reasons. She says she loves her work there because she loves the people. It’s a community, and showing up for a volunteer shift means she gets to see her friends. The organization is close to her home in Montpelier, and she says she supports the organization on a deeper level: the disability rights movement really struck a chord with her. Not only did her partner, Peg, help start VCIL as one of the original founders, but Peg’s daughter has a disability and Joyce has seen firsthand how the organization is able to make a difference in the lives of Vermonters.
Joyce says volunteers are of the utmost importance for the organization, as VCIL frequently deals with funding restrictions, volunteers provide the extra help needed to take some of the pressure off staff. Many of the volunteers working at VCIL also have disabilities, which helps foster a deeper understanding of what peers need throughout multiple levels in the organization.
For those who are interested in volunteering, Joyce says, “It is a wonderful way to get to know an organization. They make it easy.” Her experience with VCIL has been rewarding in the freedom and flexibility she has with her schedule, as well as the incredible sense of community its given her.
Vermont Center for Independent Living(VCIL) believes that individuals with disabilities have the right to live with dignity and with appropriate support in their own homes, fully participate in their communities and to control and make decisions about their lives. To learn more about VCIL and the work they do for Vermonters, go to www.vcil.org.
The Volunteer of the Month is a feature compiled by the Green Mountain United Way, focusing on the contributions of local volunteers whose work benefits local nonprofit organizations in Green Mountain United Way’s service territory. For more information, or to nominate a volunteer to be featured here, go to www.gmunitedway.org/volunteer-of-the-month.