Whether spending time at Cantigny’s First Division War Museum or at Sandburg Elementary School, Rosemary Beutell says volunteering brings her great satisfaction while enhancing other people’s lives.
Wheaton Patch: Where do you volunteer to work?
Rosemary Beutell: Since I’m semi-retired I’ve volunteered at several organizations, but am especially involved at Cantigny in Winfield working in their Visitor’s Center. I also enjoyed teaching 2nd graders Junior Achievement at Sandburg Elementary School in Wheaton in the spring of 2009. We learned how a community works; how citizens are provided community services; how firefighters and policemen are paid; and how money flows through a community.
Patch: How long have you volunteered at your organization?
Beutell: I’ve been volunteering at Cantigny since March of 2009.
Patch: Do you have a “day job?”
Beutell: Yes, I do. I work part-time for the DuPage County Community Development Commission, the same department I retired from in 2008. I help administer projects funded under various federal grants including the Community Development Block Grant, the HOME Partnership Act, and the new Homeless Prevention and Rapid Re-Housing Act (awarded under the American Recovery and Re-Investment Act of 2009). These projects deal with public service and housing concerns.
Patch: What inspires you to volunteer?
Beutell: I volunteer because I feel everyone has a responsibility to the community they live in to provide for its future. Making things better begins one person at a time.
Patch: What kind of people do you most enjoy working with?
Beutell: I most enjoy working with people, young or old, men or women, who are enthusiastic about being there. An example that comes to mind is when I asked an elderly neighbor to come with me to box food for the holidays for poor families at the Humanitarian Project in Carol Stream. Her enthusiasm ignited the other volunteers to work even harder to insure that every family on our list got a box for Christmas.
Patch: What special skills, if any, do you utilize as a volunteer?
Beutell: I pretty much can work with anyone and learn from anyone. However, I find, as I get older, that I have less patience with those who don’t take action where it is needed. I don’t know if that’s a skill or a flaw.
Patch: While volunteering, has anything ever caught you off guard that you were not expecting?
Beutell: I find that even though I may be caught off guard in a situation that the fact that I’m over 65 and have had quite a bit of life experience prevents me from panicking since “I’ve been there, done that before.”
Patch: Do you have any particularly inspirational stories about someone you have helped?
Beutell: Because of the First Division War Museum’s presence at Cantigny, we have many veteran visitors. Their pride in what they see is communicated to us and contributes to our satisfaction in volunteering here. We always listen. However, my particular story involves a daughter and her mother visiting Cantigny’s gardens for the first time not realizing how big a place it is and concerned that they might not be able to enjoy it together since the mother had difficulty walking. I suggested a wheelchair and it made my day to see what fun the two had and the gratitude they showed me for helping them.
Patch: What would you consider your greatest accomplishment as a volunteer?
Beutell: To help a visitor enjoy Cantigny and then to comment how beautiful the gardens are and how much they appreciated the War Museum in its remembrance of our soldiers is the goal of all our Visitor Center volunteers.
Patch: How much time do you spend volunteering each week?
Beutell: I volunteer 3-4 hours each week. On special event weekends, I may volunteer up to 5 hours that particular day.
Patch: What is your ideal vacation spot?
Beutell: Santa Barbara, CA. My family and I lived in Los Angeles for about five years while my husband worked in the music business. Our family spent many weekends in Santa Barbara, only an hour or so away, relaxing on the beach, enjoying the food and the weekend flea market. My daughter even went back to be married a few years ago since it holds such great memories for our family.
Patch: Who is your role model and why?
Beutell: I can’t single out just one person since I’ve been lucky enough to have met many inspiring people in my life. I’ve also have some great friends that I can depend on for support and inspiration. I believe that everyone in your life leaves something behind either good or bad and it’s your choice as to how you will learn from it.
Patch: Anything else you would like to add?
Beutell: I definitely believe we can all learn from volunteering.