Red Cross volunteer always smiling

PARKERSBURG – Blood donors who walk into the American Red Cross Keystone Donor Center are greeted with a warm smile and a friendly welcome courtesy of Deanie Kendall, with the Retired Senior Volunteer Program.

“Many of the nonprofits depend on volunteers like Deanie, especially with so many of the agencies facing budget cuts. They just don’t have the funds to hire full-time help. Deanie is at the Red Cross every week. She’s a wonderful volunteer and she loves to help out,” said Anne McFee, local RSVP director.

Kendall has been volunteering at the Red Cross for about two years. She also volunteers at the hospital, Emmanuel Baptist Church, works with senior expos, and helps out with the Parkersburg News and Sentinel’s Half-Marathon during homecoming.

The National Center for Community Service Senior Corps’ Retired Senior Volunteer Program provides the largest volunteer network in the nation for those 55 and older.

Through the program, volunteers use their life experience and skills to answer the call of neighbors in need. With RSVP, program participants choose how and where they want to provide service; they choose the amount of time they want to give and they choose whether they want to draw on their skills or develop new ones.

“When you volunteer, you are not just helping others, you are helping yourself. Volunteering leads to new discoveries and new friends. Studies show volunteering helps you live longer and promotes a positive outlook on life,” McFee said.

In addition to Kendall, RSVP volunteer Carma Guertin also helps out at the Red Cross.

At the Keystone Center on Dudley Avenue, Kendall checks in donors. She estimated between 23-27 residents come into the center while she’s on duty.

Kendall, who retired from Corning Glass in 1992, is now 81. She was looking for something to keep her busy. After meeting McFee at a Red Cross luncheon she learned of the Retired Senior Volunteer Program.

“I hadn’t heard of the program before. But I love volunteering. I like helping people, I think it does me more good than them. It’s a reason to get up and do things. It makes me feel good that I’m able to help people. It’s makes me feel younger. I’m always encouraging my friends to get involved,” Kendall said.

“She always has a friendly smile to greet people,” McFee said.

Kendall said she also enjoys her volunteer work at the hospital.

“I make beds, make coffee, whatever they need me to do, and they seem to appreciate me being there,” Kendall said.

Kendall and her husband, the late Norm Kendall, had four children and she loves spending time with them. Daughter Sandy was among the first graduating class at Parkersburg South High School; daughters Terry and Becky were cheerleaders and son Rick was on the PSHS football team. She has eight grandchildren, and one great grandchild.

More than 470 senior citizens in the Wood, Jackson, Roane, Calhoun and Pleasants county areas have responded and joined the RSVP contributing approximately 56,000 hours annually to help others. The volunteers serve with nonprofits, public agencies and faith-based organizations, mentoring at-risk children, tutoring elementary school children; planning and organizing special events; overseeing Neighborhood Watch programs, assists victims of natural disaster and providing skills to community groups that provide critical social services.

RSVP is part of the Senior Corps, a network of national service programs that provides those 55 and older with the chance to sue their life experience to meet community needs.