Story and Photos by Rob Paine, RSVP-Northern Virginia
RSVP Northern Virginia helped Celia Boertlein find her niche.
Celia, honored in October as Volunteer Alexandria’s RSVP Volunteer of the Year, says she found out about RSVP while volunteering with New Hope Housing.
“I got involved with RSVP through New Hope Housing initially and found that RSVP had volunteer positions open at Huntley Meadows, which has always been one of my absolute favorite parks,” Celia says. Please read more below
Celia primarily works with the children’s programs at Huntley Meadows, a sprawling 1,500 acre park run by the Fairfax County Park Authority in the Hybla Valley section of Fairfax County.
“I just love working with the kids in particular and getting their appreciation for nature, conservation and things like that,” she says.
Huntley Meadows is regarded as one of the top places to view wildlife in the Washington D.C. Area. Celia said that on a recent Saturday, 27 different species of birds were recorded seen at the park.
According to Halley Johnson, Huntley Meadows’s volunteer coordinator, “Celia sets the bar for new volunteers and for volunteers in general, just so incredibly high. She makes the experience, not just for visitors and program attendees but for other volunteers and staff just amazing,” Halley says.
Celia was the first volunteer Halley on-boarded when she started working at Huntley Meadows. Celia says she enjoys working with the park’s staff and the feeling is mutual.
To view a short video featuring Celia and Huntley Meadows Park, please click here.
“When she (Celia) comes in, you know it’s going to be a good day,” Halley says.
Huntley Meadows has a variety of volunteer opportunities available ranging from working the information desk at the park’s visitor center to serving as a docent at the Historic Huntley House located in the park.
What does Celia get out of volunteering?
“I think I actually give back far less than I get,” she says. “I think it’s always fun to see what new things are going on. I love working with the kids. They’re amazing in what they know and what their opinions are about things.”
Celia says volunteering as a senior is critical because “You need to maintain those social contacts. I know for me, sitting around the house and reading is just not the way to go,” she says.
Celia says the benefits of senior volunteering are numerous. “I feel much more alive. I get a little exercise. Being with people in different kinds of activities is just important, you need to find your niche and this is the place I enjoy the most,” she says of Huntley Meadows.
For more information on volunteering at Huntley Meadows through RSVP please contact RSVP volunteer specialist Carly Hubicki at 703-403-5360 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
RSVP Northern Virginia is a program of Volunteer Fairfax, Volunteer Alexandria and Volunteer Arlington.