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Valleywide Focus

Group Honors 30 Volunteers at Lunch

September 23, 1993|REBECCA BRYANT

Every Monday, a special duo takes over the information desk at Valley Presbyterian Hospital. They know the hospital inside and out. You want to know where the cafeteria is? Just ask. When the hospital was built? Ask. The pair's wedding anniversary? You got it.

Mary Oberle started volunteering at the hospital in 1960, when it first opened with only one building. Her husband of 52 years, Gene, joined her there a year ago.

The couple--he's 74, she's 73--were among 30 volunteers from the Valley who were honored Wednesday at a luncheon sponsored by the San Fernando Valley Directors of Volunteers in Agencies, or DOVIA.

"We work together beautifully," Mary Oberle said. "There's something about volunteering that gives you a warm feeling inside. You're not being paid. You're doing what you're doing because you want to."

DOVIA brings together directors of nonprofit organizations to help them share ideas on how to better coordinate their volunteers' efforts. And on Wednesday, it celebrated the volunteers, whose duties range from clerical to counseling.

"They give their time and their talents in order to help people, without which the agencies could not function, especially in today's economic straits," said Fay Day, president of the local DOVIA. "The agencies are having to cut back on staff. Volunteers have always been a mainstay but now more than ever."

The center helps match people sentenced to public service to the agencies they can best help. Volunteer Milton Nesse keeps records on 4,000 to 5,000 cases a month.

Annie Campbell, just retired at 71, spent 14 years directing the nonprofit Retired Senior Volunteer Program, RSVP, helping volunteers help others. The onetime English, history and religion teacher left that position in Hollywood in August, 1992.

Not one to sit still, she signed up at the RSVP center in Panorama City. "Right now I'm teaching English to Korean ladies," she said. "They're a delightful group.

"It's been a wonderful learning experience for me," Campbell said. "That's what volunteering is about. You can give of yourself, but you can always learn."

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