- Last Updated on Wednesday, 23 June 2010 14:54
- Published on Wednesday, 23 June 2010 14:54
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Editor’s note: This is the first in a series of articles focused on volunteerism in the Town of Colonial Beach. Watch future editions to see men and women who are doing their part (and often more) to benefit their community.
You’re invited to walk with The Journal on a literary journey to find the heart of Colonial Beach. Emotions run strong when people talk about the beach. It’s either a great place to live or a small town that can’t seem to find its way — a small town that saw its heyday in the 1940s and 1950s when it was known as “The Playground of the Potomac,” a place that has not yet been able to recapture that title.
Colonial Beach has always been a town driven by a citizenry split along two lines, the “been heres” who miss the old days and oppose change and the “come heres” who are looking for the amenities a beach community offers, while demanding convenience and a higher level of services. These days the town struggles to fund the school system, maintain infrastructure and create and implement local regulations that maintain the quest for a better quality of life while not discouraging tourism.
But if you take a bit of time and journey down Colonial Avenue, you start to get a feel for the heart of the beach. Town Hill has new landscaping, paid for and maintained by volunteers. Turn right on Washington Avenue, and you’ll see volunteers serving those less fortunate at Colonial Beach United Methodist Church and St. Elizabeth of Hungary Roman Catholic Church. As you pass the Hunan Diner, you learn that owner Allan To and his staff have volunteered many times to prepare and serve meals during special events, most notably the recent First Annual Torch Run benefiting Special Olympics. The Torch Run itself was a result of volunteer efforts of a local family, Wayne and Jeannette Rose.
As you pass by the entrance to the Riverboat, you learn of the many times Penny Flanagan has opened her doors and resources to the community for events and in times of tragedy. You’ll see the Colonial Beach Museum, funded and staffed by volunteers carefully cataloging and exhibiting items of historical importance donated by residents.
To reach the heart of the beach, you must meet the volunteers who give of their time and resources to the community they call home. Whether they are “come heres” or “been heres,” all of the volunteers express the same sentiment — that they get more than they give.
Every Thursday from 10 a.m. to noon volunteers gather at the Colonial Beach United Methodist Church and run a food pantry. Needy residents receive a bag of groceries once a month. Bread products and pastries are available every Thursday by way of donations from Food Lion. Pat Buchholz reports that grocery items and cash to purchase groceries are donated by the congregations of both Colonial Beach United Methodist Church and nearby Grace United Methodist Church. Last month the food pantry served 72 households that included 59 children.
Buchholz spoke of a local woman who had been to the food pantry several years ago and who was in need due to her daughter’s failing health. Now, each year on the anniversary of her daughter’s death, that woman donates four or five bags of groceries in memory of her daughter and in appreciation of the help she received when she needed it most. Volunteers at the food pantry include Buchholtz, James Keller, Marge Buchholz, John Lackey, Cheryl Lackey, Sylvia Mattison and Joe Mills.
Across the street, St. Elizabeth of Hungary Roman Catholic Church, under the vision of Father Jerome A. Magat, saw a need for a community health clinic. In May of 2005, the Guadalupe Free Clinic opened its doors. The clinic provides primary, non-emergency medical care each Saturday from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. The clinic is staffed by volunteer physicians and staff and serves any town or county resident who is not covered by any medical insurance and earns below 200 percent of the federal poverty guidelines. The clinic has served more than 3,000 patients and sees approximately 28 people each Saturday. The church is also a recipient of a Jessie Ball DuPont grant, which provides annual funds to be used to provide assistance with food, housing, utilities and transportation to people in need.
Turn onto Garfield Avenue, and you’ll find that Colonial Beach Baptist Church also offers a food pantry twice a week on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 10 a.m. to noon. People in need can get a bag of groceries once a month and bread and pastries once a week, also donated by Food Lion. All grocery items in the food pantry are a result of contributions from the church congregation. Last week, the pantry served 23 families and, on average, serves 80 to 100 families per month.
Boy Scout Troop 258, under the direction of volunteer Scout leaders, holds a grocery drive at the beach each November that helps the pantry meet the need during the harsher winter months when unemployment is on the rise. The volunteers include Lucy Sindelar, Mary Sanford, Connie Klopsis and Pat Rainey. As noted by Sanford, “I can’t imagine what it’s like to not be able to feed your kids.”