Volunteering became a way of life for Virginia Kress over 40 years ago. She actively volunteers at the Dayton Senior Center, the Day Break Shelter and her local church. Virginia founded the Kettering Christmas Day Open House 20 years ago, for which she has volunteered nearly 3,500 hours to ensure that others may have a happy Christmas.
For the past 20 years, Virginia has been a trip coordinator for the Dayton Senior Center. She volunteers her time planning trips for the seniors and accompanying them on those trips. Virginia also spends her time at the Day Break Shelter where she works on committees to form programs to protect the young runaways in her area. She was instrumental in the formation of the Youth at Risk program which provides a safe place, such as a firehouse, for the youth to go to at any hour. From this safe place, Virginia is contacted and then she picks the child up and escorts him/her to the shelter. Virginia's summer months are spent at her local church where she helps run a summer day camp twice a week for junior high children. This camp provides activities and lunch for the young adults.
Virginia's biggest undertaking is the Kettering Christmas Day Open House. The lonely in the community are invited to come and enjoy refreshments, decorate a tree and sing carols. This Christmas party is for the elderly, recently divorced, widowed, military personnel, college students, single parents and their children-people who otherwise would have been alone on Christmas Day. The Open House is held at Polen farm, a city owned property that is on a bus line which is handicap accessible. Virginia chairs a committee of volunteers who plan and organize the party, including buying and preparing the food themselves. Santa Claus always attends the party, as well as strolling musicians and clowns. Virginia works tirelessly for four months on the Open House. Through her efforts approximately 300 people have a place to go on Christmas Day.