2016 National Volunteer Week

During National Volunteer Week, April 10-16, 2016, Serve Rhode Island will feature volunteer stories that demonstrate the power of volunteerism in our communities. 

Tom Holland - South County Habitat for Humanity

Tom Holland

South County Habitat for Humanity

Tom Holland has been volunteering with Habitat for Humanity for 15 months. In the past year, Tom has dedicated 750 hours (and counting) volunteering at our ReStore in the repair department. Our ReStore is our retail outlet that sells new and gently used items that can be found in a home or used to make a home (items range from appliances and building materials to furniture and kitchenware). Tom spends at least 3 days a week in our repair department refinishing furniture donation items that come in on a daily basis. When asked about what inspired his passion to become involved he answered “I was inspired by my daughter, when I saw that she was giving back to the community more than I had, I was shocked. I wanted to do something.” Tom had been working at the University of Rhode Island and found himself afraid to retire, unsure how to keep himself busy, and more importantly happy. He was then inspired by a colleague, and fellow Habitat volunteer, to learn more about Habitat for Humanity. Tom enjoys working alongside other veteran volunteers in our repair department. He comes to volunteer every week with a smile on his face, and ready to work. Volunteers and Habitat employees admire his attention to detail, specifically with antique pieces of furniture.

Christine Maino - WaterFire Providence

Christine Maino 

WaterFire Providence

Christine is on the far right.

Christine Maino still finds a thrill in coming out from under the bridges inside Waterplace park to see the smiling faces of the 65,000 guest in attendance. Even after 18 years of helping WaterFire in almost every way, she is still there as one of the most dependable, and helpful members of the volunteer community. It all started with a WaterFire back in 1997, when she saw a boat with volunteer clad in black, emerge from Washington Street bridge that sparked a fire. “It took me a few weeks to find out how to volunteer back then, but then I was reading the ProJo one day and in the volunteer section I saw an ad for WaterFire, I called and ever since I’ve been helping out."

Christine says that as a WaterFire Woodboat Captain (Prometheus is her favorite boat) that she keeps coming back because of the people that surround her on these warm summer nights. “It is the staff of WaterFire and the other Captains, and other crew members, who I get to see and learn from each night that make me want to see them again and again.” Each night Christine shows her crew how to feed in the rhythmic WaterFire way, and with each lesson she is impacting a new volunteer for life. “I think that I impact my community every time there is a lighting by sharing the knowledge that I have acquired over the years, with the members of my crew each night I have to show my crew exactly how to build The Wall (the braziers at WaterFire that aren’t floating). She also says that she knows she has helped touch the community when she sees the smiling faces of the people all around the river “enjoying the event that is for them, and free. That is an important part of what Rhode Island, and WaterFire is all about.”

Christine also feels like volunteering has given back to her too. “[WaterFire] gives me something to look forward to, and it was something that I very much needed in my life and a place to give my time to. I was using those skills I learned from so many years of teaching and can use those skills to lead crews and teach about WaterFire, while keeping my crew safe.” It is that giving back while at the same time receiving something so meaningful that she feels is what volunteering is all about.

Bill DeNuccio - Roger Williams Park Zoo

Bill DeNuccio

Roger Williams Park Zoo

Roger Williams Park Zoo is lucky to have a large group of generous and enthusiastic volunteers.  A perfect example of this dedication is Bill DeNuccio, a RWPZ Docent for over 18 years.

As a Docent out on grounds, Bill’s knowledge and enthusiasm make him the perfect “face” for our Zoo.  His engaging personality and dry wit make him a perfect conversationalist – an ideal trait for a Docent volunteer!
As a Day Captain, Bill has the ability to keep his team focused and on-task while still maintaining a light, relaxed, and fun tone for the group.  (A perfect example: Bill was recently describing a fascinating book to his team and recommended that they seek out a copy for themselves.  When asked who the author was, without missing a beat, Bill responded, “That’s the person who wrote the book.”)
Off grounds, Bill still finds a way give his time to us.  Being skilled with his hands, Bill has made numerous items for use in some of our interactive areas, including dozens of wooden fruits, vegetables, stalks, and vines for our brand new Farm Stand and Garden play area.
Perhaps the greatest testament to Bill’s character is that our staff constantly looks to him as a standard by which all Docents and Day Captains can be measured.  Roger Williams Park Zoo is lucky to have docents like Bill!

Margaret Wintle - Hope Hospice & Palliative Care Rhode Island

Margaret Wintle

Hope Hospice & Palliative Care Rhode Island

Margaret has been a volunteer at Hope Hospice & Palliative Care Rhode Island for 3 years and 3 months. Not only does Margaret make a large workload look easy, but she also accomplishes each task set before her with admirable grace. From organizing extremely high piles of paperwork for our Medical Records Department to sitting bedside with a variety of patients, she really can do it all. We are so happy to have such a dedicated and caring volunteer like Margaret. She is very special to us and we look forward to seeing her smiling face every week!

Evelyne Kolkosky & Donna Miller - Literacy Volunteers of Kent County

Evelyne Kolkosky & Donna Miller

Literacy Volunteers of Kent County


Evelyne and Donna are the instructors for Literacy Volunteers of Kent County’s (LVKC) ELL Group Conversation class at the Coventry Public Library. Both have tutored students one to one, but have found a special niche working together with the Coventry weekly class to instruct and enable students to meet goals.

How long have you been Volunteering for LVKC and why is literacy important to you?

E: I think it’s been four years.

D: Since 2009. It is very rewarding for me to see the students learn, and they are very grateful.

What is each of your specific roles in the Group Conversation Class?

E: To encourage, support, define, and engage.

D: To encourage students to try new things. Do not make them afraid to try. Praise their efforts.

What has been your most challenging experience with LVKC and/or your most rewarding?

E: Communicating with a person with very little understanding of English and helping someone study for their citizenship. Most rewarding when the results bring success. The lady with no English sang the alphabet with me and felt comfortable enough to put words together. The new citizen found the test easy and passed with flying colors. I am so grateful to have shared a part of their lives and helped them with their difficulties.

D: Seeing students learn to read! Seeing Jessica get her citizenship—most rewarding. For most challenging, having a student who would not speak to me for one year.

Have you learned anything about yourself from volunteering?

E: I’ve learned that I can make a difference in someone’s life. I’ve learned much about different cultures and backgrounds. Basically, we are all human beings trying to survive in a sometimes unfriendly world. I feel privileged to have met wonderful people whom I can call my friends. Teaching, for me, is fun and exciting. It is a wonderful experience to share with others.

D: It makes me feel happy to see their progress.

What do you do when you are not volunteering?

E: I retired from a career in fund raising, and when not volunteering for LVKC, I become a homemaker, a wife, mother and grandmother. I love to garden, read, cook, decorate, entertain, play piano, and simply enjoy the fine arts that life offers.

D: Read, movies, time with friends.

What would you tell someone who is thinking about volunteering?

E: The LVKC experience has made me feel good about myself and gives me a new identity. I meet wonderful, affectionate people who give back so much. I have made many new friendships and look forward to sharing with them their life experiences. It’s a “small world after all.”

D: Try it, you will like it!

Do you speak any other languages and did you pick them up at LVKC?

E: I still speak my native language of French.

D: No!

What are you reading now?

E: Currently, I am reading Pat Conroy’s “Beach Music.” My favorite authors are Ken Follette, John Connelly, Iris Johanson, Jack Higgins, Michael Connelly, John Lescroat, J. A. Jance, James Paterson, Daniel Silva, Elizabeth George, and Nelson DeMille.

D: I just started a new book yesterday by Judy Blume, “In the Unlikely Event.”


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