May 9, 2003 - The Patriot Ledger: Jamaica RPCV Kathy Bryan returns to life of volunteer work

Peace Corps Online: Directory: Jamaica: Peace Corps Jamaica : The Peace Corps in Jamaica: May 9, 2003 - The Patriot Ledger: Jamaica RPCV Kathy Bryan returns to life of volunteer work

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Jamaica RPCV Kathy Bryan returns to life of volunteer work

Jamaica RPCV Kathy Bryan returns to life of volunteer work

SALUTE TO VOLUNTEERS: Again gratified by the experience of helping others

Kathy Bryan of Scituate sorts books donated to Road to Responsibility's Ocean Village Bookstore in Marshfield. (AMELIA KUNHARDT/The Patriot Ledger )

The Patriot Ledger

MARSHFIELD - Retirement has given Kathy Bryan the chance to do something she hadn't done in more than 25 years: volunteer.

Bryan, a Quincy native who now lives on Scituate's Humarock Beach, first sampled volunteering as a 23-year-old in 1963. She volunteered at South Shore Hospital in Weymouth, delivering food and mail to patients and directing people who got lost in the halls.

Then, in 1965, while much of the nation's attention was on the war in Vietnam, Bryan and her first husband went to Montana with their newborn child. She volunteered at the St. Labre Indian Mission, a 100-year-old Catholic mission that runs schools for Native American children from the Cheyenne and Crow tribes.

‘‘I was a teacher,'' Bryan said. ‘‘I taught a business class and worked with the principal of the high school. We had looked for a place ... where we could do something for other people.''

While at the mission, she even coached the high school's cheerleading squad.

‘‘The basketball team went to the state finals that year for the first time ever,'' Bryan said.

She and her husband spent three years in Montana.

In 1971, they joined the Peace Corps. The organization was experimenting with a new family program; it allowed married couples to bring their children on assignment.

For two years, Bryan, her husband and their growing family lived and worked in Jamaica.

By the mid 1970s, Bryan's life of volunteerism had ended.

‘‘I got divorced, and volunteering was buried by my trying to figure out my life,'' Bryan said. ‘‘After that, I had jobs that took away from my time for volunteering.''

For more than 25 years she worked full-time jobs, most recently at New England Village in Pembroke, a non-profit residence for mentally retarded adults.

In retirement, Bryan realized that she wasn't suited for a life of leisure.

‘‘I just can't sit at home and do nothing,'' she said. ‘‘Now I wanted to get back to work, but I wanted to do something fun that I would really enjoy.''

For two years she managed the Kind-Hearted Woman consignment shop once a week. The store is run by the Rockland-based Yellow Brick Road Project, which provides computer and business skills to battered women.

Now she splits her time at the Marshfield Food Pantry and the Ocean Village Bookstore, a downtown Marshfield business owned by Road to Responsibility, a nonprofit organization.

She started volunteering at the bookstore because it supports Road to Responsibility's services and programs for mentally and physically disabled people.

‘‘When I learned about RTR, I wanted to become involved here,'' Bryan said.

She began by donating used books to the store. Now she works there five hours a week and helps organize Road to Responsibility fund-raisers.

Bryan and her second husband sought out volunteer work at the food pantry after they saw a request for food donations in a newspaper.

Bryan says she volunteers because she enjoys helping people.

‘‘People come in one week, then the next week they may not be there,'' she said of her work at the food pantry. ‘‘They lose their jobs. They lose their homes. They're in dire straits.

‘‘Just to be able to help them and to give them something to live on for a couple of weeks is so satisfying.''

Conclusion of a two-week series on volunteers in our communities.

Shamus McGillicuddy may be reached at

Copyright 2003 The Patriot Ledger
Transmitted Friday, May 09, 2003

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Story Source: The Patriot Ledger

This story has been posted in the following forums: : Headlines; COS - Jamaica; Service



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