Volunteer Finds Her Niche Among Books at Thrift Shop

When JoAnn Weber was employed in the manufacturing sector, she didn’t have time to volunteer. But after she retired in 2012, she started giving back to the community by volunteering at various nonprofit agencies.

As a member of the Retired & Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP), which is sponsored by the Volunteer Center in Appleton, she browsed the agency’s Connections Book. The publication features volunteering opportunities for more than 100 nonprofit agencies in the area.

JoAnn Weber loves volunteering in the book section at Bethesda Thrift Shop in Appleton, where she has a knack for organizing.

“I just paged through the book and when I read about Bethesda, I went to the store, filled out an application and started the next day,” she said. “I never regretted it. I always knew I wanted to volunteer after I retired, to help the community. Now I’m serving the Lord.”

Today, the Kimberly resident volunteers at Bethesda Thrift Shop in Appleton about six hours a day. The store is operated by Bethesda Lutheran Communities, which has been enhancing the lives of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities for more than 100 years. Programs and services are partially funded through the sales of merchandise at the thrift stores, which operate across the nation.

Last year, 22 RSVP volunteers provided 3,458 hours of service in local thrifts shops. Funds from these stores are used to further their programs for low-income families or, as in the case of Bethesda Thrift Shop, the money received is meeting the needs of people with disabilities.

Appleton store manager MaryBeth Murphy said the stores are almost totally run by volunteers. Murphy said Weber is a dedicated volunteer and has been an asset to the store.

“After trying a couple departments she has landed in books and is doing an awesome job keeping our book department on the sales floor filled and looking great,” she said. “She also has organized our back-stock and keeps everything current. She is very particular with her work and it shows.”

Weber tallied more than 100 hours volunteering at the store in January – and she loves it.

“When I first started, there were more than 100 boxes of books to sort through,” she said. “It took me about a month to go through the boxes and get them all categorized.”

Weber said customers say the book section looks like an actual bookstore. Occasionally she receives compliments on the book displays.

“It makes you feel good,” Weber said. “I enjoy what I do. I’m always in a positive mode and try to keep others in a positive mode.”

Check out hundreds of volunteer opportunities in the Fox Valley in the Volunteer Center’s 2018 Connections Book online. Visit www.volunteerfoxcities.org, click on the “Volunteering” tab on the home page and scroll to the “Volunteer Connections Book” link.