Why I Volunteer

Posted on Wednesday, January 8, 2020 by Melissa Howison

By Shirley Brewer 

Now and Then
2018: Shirley with other 2nd Wednesdays volunteers (top), and wearing her silver *screen* jacket to introduce Amy Davis, movie theater expert and presenter (bottom left).
2013: Shirley at the Abell Little Free Library launch (bottom right.)

I’ve volunteered for the 2nd Wednesdays Committee at the Village Learning Place (VLP) for approximately the past ten years–helping to plan the monthly sessions of speakers/concerts/presentations, giving opening and/or closing remarks, and bringing treats to share. It’s always a joy when everything comes together on that one Wednesday night of the month–as it usually does–and our audience revels in the entertainment we have provided! When I say “we,” I’m referring to the VLP’s energetic staff and to my fellow volunteers, who have become friends as well.  

I love the library itself, an elegant building with high ceilings that manages to convey a spirit of warmth. It’s a very cozy place!! And the atmosphere is one of community and friendliness. Often in warmer months, we meet in the VLP’s beautiful garden, lovingly cared for by another group of volunteers. 

As a poet, I often take notes during a presentation, in case I’m moved to write a poem. One such inspiration for me was Dr. Jason Kalirai, astrophysicist and Mission Area Executive at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory. Dr. Kalirai is one of our most popular speakers, and he has presented to our 2nd Wednesdays audience several times. During one of his talks, he described the middle age period of a star as “a bore.” That got me thinking about my own middle age, and inspired my poem, “Voyage,” which is included in my third poetry collection, Bistro in Another Realm.  

Since I’m fond of accessoriesI sometimes try to match what I’m wearing to the speaker’s topic. Once we had a speaker on different types of honey, and I showed up with bumblebee accessories! 

When I first joined the committee, I almost resigned after a few months, as I felt intimidated by the cooking/baking prowess of some of our other committee members. However, I struck gold! I make Watergate Salad, and I sometimes vary the ingredients. It has proved immensely popular, as it’s very refreshing and pairs well with salads, cookies and other food offerings.  

I believe everyone should try to give something back to their community. There are many choices available at the VLP. Look around and see what appeals to you!!  I’m happy with my selection, and plan to continue volunteering for the Village Learning Place, a worthwhile organization that appreciates my efforts.