Karen Merrell – Spring Volunteer of the Quarter!
Karen got connected with WCF through Open-Door Outreach, an organization that provides a pool of volunteers for organizations and events in need. ODO provides a monthly dinner for the shelter and when Karen was helping to deliver the dinner one moth, she realized that the shelter is close to where she lives. “Feeling that I should help to take care of my neighborhood, I started by giving a donation every month or so, and through this got to know Holly Reynolds, the Shelter Manager,” Karen said. “After a time, it came out that I like doing crafts and when I offered to try and start a craft night Holly agreed enthusiastically. That was in April of 2016 and I have done a craft night almost every Tuesday night since.”
The creativity of the kids is what stands out most to Karen. “I’ll bring craft supplies to do some specific craft and the kids will take my idea and build on it in a way I would have never thought of,” she said. One week we were making cars out of clothes pins, buttons, and twist-ties and the kids found sparkles and googly eyes left in my bag from a previous activity and not only embellished the single cars that they had made, but then glued several clothes pins together and made super-wide and double and triple-decker cars with sparkles and eyes. Any time I bring puppets or little figures they end up with faces and outfits and sometimes even little pillows and blankets.” Karen loves seeing the kids take her ideas and make them their own and knows it is a great outlet for the children while they are in the shelter.
Coming up with weekly activities that are interesting to a wide range of ages (often, there are kids ranging from 3-year-olds to teenagers) and keeping it affordable to Karen (she provides all of the supplies each week), but it has always been rewarding to Karen and she does not regret a moment that she has spent shopping, preparing, and teaching the various crafts. “I love providing a creative outlet for these kids, and it is always rewarding to have kids peeking their heads over the playground fence waiting for me to come, or waiting outside of the Gentle Jungle 10 minutes before the weekly activity is to begin. I love being able to share my love of crafts!”
Thank you, Karen, from all of us at WCF for your time, dedication, and generosity! We truly appreciate you and are honored to name you our Volunteer of the Quarter!