Read and be inspired by the stories of local volunteers who are making a difference in the community:

Helen Daniel


When Helen Daniel first saw the grocery bag mats at Matthew 25: Ministries, she was fascinated. Made out of recycled plastic bags, the mats are distributed by Matthew 25 to the poorest of the poor in third world countries as a durable, water-proof surface to sit or sleep.

The volunteer group she was with from Community First decided that they would start making the mats and donate them to Matthew 25. Since then, Helen has personally made close to 20 of the 3X6 foot mats. In addition, she’s started crocheting “lap blankets” for the healthcare residents at Berkeley Square and Veterans in Hospice with donated yarn.

“It’s an enjoyable pastime for me, and you feel good that you’re helping somebody. I don’t mind helping anybody if I can,” Helen said.

Samantha Wilkerson, activities coordinator at Berkeley Square, is extremely grateful for Helen’s support.

“Helen is such a thoughtful person, she came up with the idea to make our healthcare residents lap blankets after we made them for a hospice company,” Wilkerson said. “She said she wanted to take care of our residents because she is grateful to be taken care of.”


Mayra Castro and Evelyn Deeb

Evelyn Deeb works full time three days of the week, but with her kids all grown up, she was looking for something to do with the rest of her time. That’s when she found the West Chester Activity Center—and Mayra Castro—and the two formed “the dream team.” Every Thursday, Mayra and Evelyn volunteer to serve lunch to the members at the West Chester Activity Center.

They do dishes, serve food, prepare coffee—but their favorite part is interacting with the members. Mayra has been volunteering for the Activity Center for four years. Evelyn has been there close to three years, and the two have become an invaluable duo for the staff, the members, and for each other, having become quite close.

“We feel so welcome here, everybody is so positive and happy,” Evelyn said. “We miss each other when the other isn’t here, and the members miss us when we aren’t there.”

The two even bring their kids and grandkids in to volunteer and play chair volleyball with the people there.

“I think in order to receive blessings, you must share blessings you have. If you have the time, donate it,” Mayra said. “That’s why I do it. That and it’s fun! It’s always my favorite part of the week!”


Mary Ann Batt

Even though Mary Ann Batt retired from St. Peter in Chains nearly 6 years ago, she says in a way she’s busier now than when she was teaching. She volunteers once a month at Berkeley Square’s Lamplighter Gift Shoppe, twice a month at Ft. Hamilton Hospital’s gift shop, makes mats with Helen and the other ladies at Berkeley Square, volunteers at Matthew 25, and is the treasurer of the Four Seasons Garden Club.

“I volunteer because it’s something I wasn’t able to do when I taught,” Batt said. “My favorite part is the people. You can make such an impact just by talking to them and offering social contact that they might not have otherwise.”

Proceeds from the gift shop at Berkeley Square benefit the Community First Lifecare Fund, which ensures that Berkeley Square and Westover residents have a place to stay regardless of whether they run out of funds. The hospital gift shop benefits a different area each year—from emergency room updates to pre-natal care.  


Volunteer with Community First Solutions

No matter your interests, there are plenty of ways to get involved in your community. For information about volunteer opportunities with Community First, contact Steve Schnabl at (513) 785-4793