Known for her unflagging dedication and warmth, Joyce is a volunteering powerhouse. We caught up with her one morning to ask about her many volunteer experiences and what motivates her to be a force for change in the community.
Hi! Tell us a little about yourself. How did you become involved with United Way?
Hi, my name is Joyce Gresh, and I’ve been volunteering at United Way for five years. Before that I was a teacher, and also a curriculum director in Woodstock Public Schools, and when I retired I needed something to do. On Facebook I saw a post about the Mobile Food Pantry, so I started volunteering in Jewett City with that. It was the first Mobile Food Pantry that the United Way had started, and I found that it was very rewarding. But then I really needed to do something else, so by accident I spoke with Sharon Peccini and asked her if there was anything I could do here at the headquarters that she needed help with. Little did I know that I would walk into a stack of Day of Caring forms that needed to be put into their computer. I did a lot of work on the computer so it was a pretty easy transition for me to do that, but it also helped me to see that there are a lot of caring people in southeastern Connecticut who want to volunteer and help as much as they can.
What made you want to give back to the community?
One of the reasons I got involved was I’ve always felt like I’ve been very blessed, and grew up in a family that always wanted to help other people. So it was nice that I could do that here at United Way.
What kind of volunteer work do you do with United Way?
Since I’ve been here, I’ve volunteered at Days of Caring all over the place; I still volunteer at the Mobile Food Pantry and have become a coordinator there [….] I’ve volunteered at Coogan Farms to help plant the vegetables there, [and] I have become the go-to person to input all the data from the mobile food pantry and send thank you letters to those people who have volunteered their time. I’ve also volunteered at Tommy Toy Fund, which to me was terrific because I loved seeing the families coming in, seeing the gratitude on their faces when they came out with bags of toys for their children for Christmas. My children, again, were blessed to be able to have nice Christmases, and I just wanted to help out with that. One of the best things that I’ve helped with here at United Way is the school [supply] drive that they do […] my favorite parts are the Reading Days though, where volunteers come in and read to classes at different schools in the area- that’s just my love, and I really enjoy doing that, and it helps the schools and the teachers to see there are people out there that are willing to do volunteer work to support the causes that they are donating money for.
What would you say to someone thinking about volunteering with United Way?
If you’re thinking of volunteering, all I can say is it just gives you a good feeling.