Councilwoman Virginia Devery exemplifies volunteerism in her community. In addition to volunteering her time as a city council member, Devery organized an annual Volunteer Fair in 1999 to highlight local community and county organizations that need the support of volunteers. The event is held each year at the beginning of National Volunteer Week. If past year’s events are an indication of this year’s results, Devery’s fair will be extremely successful once again.
The third annual volunteer fair will be held on April 22 to kick start a week of recognition for volunteerism throughout the nation. The volunteer fair features up to 40 local organizations that are seeking additional volunteers to assist in their endeavors. In the first two years each participating organization garnished approximately five new quality volunteers. Overall the fair, as a result of Devery’s efforts, has linked more than 150 people to organizations that desperately need assistance.
The organizations that receive assistance vary as much as the volunteers themselves. Devery has placed individuals with halfway homes, battered women shelters, soup kitchens, the local library, emergency medical squads and the fire department. She has helped organizations that provide animal and nature learning, assistance to the elderly and the physically and mentally handicapped, youth athletics and the local YMCA. Her efforts have helped residents from high school students to senior citizens. She provides a necessary link between those who can serve and those who need service.
For Devery, this is not a one-day or one-week event. She has created a volunteer pamphlet for the community, which provides additional information for individuals who may not be able to attend her event. Additionally, she has provided a volunteer resources opportunity Web site on the township Web site (www.mountlaurel.com) to provide further opportunity for awareness of her efforts. Devery recognizes that her position as a Councilwoman can be used for the benefit of the community and neighboring towns.