For the past three years, Dick Schwinkendorf has served as the Warehouse Manager for the United Way of Martin County’s Volunteer and Community Resource Center’s White Doves Christmas Project. In this capacity, he has volunteered an average of 50-60 hours per week over the three-month duration of the holiday program. He is responsible for the collection, procurement, counting, sorting and distribution of food and toys for the project. Schwinkendorf works collaboratively with many agencies throughout the county to ensure that more than 1,200 families do not go without during the holiday season. As the Warehouse Manager, he is responsible for setting up the warehouse in a festive, store-like atmosphere including the assembly of tables and decorations, as well as managing and supervising several volunteers involved in the project’s success.
Schwinkendorf has taken the strenuous task of assembling, managing and dismantling a warehouse to a level that has been extremely pleasant for the volunteers, many of who are senior citizens. He works in a concrete building with no air-conditioning in the state of Florida assembling tables made with plywood and saw horses; has sorted 20,000 pounds of food, breaking the canned goods down into several categories; has advised senior ladies to which age category a Barbie doll belongs (3-5 or 6-8 year olds); has driven to Marines Toys for Tots collection points, crawling under trees to collect the donated toys; has managed several volunteers ranging in age from Girl Scout Brownies to senior citizens; has greeted residents who have dropped off donations; and has prepared the warehouse for the Grand Opening and distribution. Schwinkendorf has done all of this with dedication and in such an organized manner that committee chairpersons, volunteers and staff will not return each year unless he is “in charge.”
White Doves serves as the central clearinghouse for all the families in Martin County who need assistance during the holiday season. Social service agencies, schools and churches refer families. The White Doves Christmas Project has brought the community together in such as positive way. Nonprofits work collaboratively to ensure that clients are taken care of, intergenerational volunteer opportunities arise when donated items are collected, counted, sorted and distributed, agencies are relieved of the burden of assisting their clients during this busy season, volunteers are fulfilled during the holiday season and the true spirit of the holiday is exhibited by people caring for one another.
“What a great feeling – when I received notice of this prestigious award. Individuals can volunteer in so many ways to help their local communities. It not only helps improve the quality of life for many unfortunate people but it also gives you a wonderful, warm feeling of gratification,” states Dick Schwinkendorf. Mr. Schwinkendorf is also a 2002 recipient of the Florida Governor’s Point of Light Award, which recognizes Florida residents and organizations that demonstrate exemplary volunteer service to their community.