Shelley Brosnan : A Champion of Volunteerism

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Photos and story by Rob Paine, RSVP-Northern Virginia 

Shelley VOYYou don’t have to sell Shelley Brosnan on the concept that volunteers make a difference. She’s seen it first-hand.

Shortly after becoming a member of RSVP-Northern Virginia three years ago, the retired senior business administrator was staffing an outreach table at the annual 50+ Expo held in Fairfax each spring, a free volunteer- driven event where job seekers 50+ can get free resume reviews and meet with recruiters. 

Shelley noticed a woman crying. “She was overjoyed,” Brosnan says. The woman had just been offered a job. “We were all absolutely thrilled, it was the best thing that could have happened,” Brosnan says. According to those who know her best, the story illustrates why Shelley is such a highly-regarded volunteer, her focus is on those who need help. 

The staff of RSVP-Northern Virginia and Volunteer Fairfax would like to congratulate RSVP volunteer engagement leader Shelley Brosnan on being named 2019 Fairfax RSVP Volunteer of the Year during Volunteer Fairfax’s 27th Annual Fairfax County Volunteer Service Award breakfast, Wednesday, April 24, in Springfield.

“Shelley truly puts the needs of others before her own. She has committed to a life of volunteerism, and it is quite inspiring,” says Carly Hubicki, RSVP’s volunteer specialist who has worked with Brosnan for the last two years. 

Wednesday,  April 24th, the day of the volunteer awards breakfast was another  typical day of service for Shelley. She arrived at The Waterford in Springfield well before dawn to help the Volunteer Fairfax staff and other volunteers finish preparing for the annual awards breakfast. That afternoon, she was scheduled to volunteer at a BRAWS (Bringing Resources to Aid Women’s Shelters) project.

Shelley, a Fairfax resident, was named Fairfax County’s RSVP-Northern Virginia Volunteer of the Year Wednesday morning during Volunteer Fairfax’s annual Volunteer Service Awards in Springfield.

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Shelley Brosnan, left, is shown at RSVP-Northern Virginia booth at the 2018 50+ Employment Expo  with fellow RSVP’er Sue Dussinger and RSVP volunteer specialist Carly Hubicki, right.

Established in 1993, the Fairfax County Volunteer Service Awards serve as a community-wide celebration of volunteerism. The awards honor individuals, groups and organizations that have given outstanding volunteer service through a broad range of activities and programs.

Shelley, 69, says she has been volunteering most of her life. “Giving back is what I really enjoy doing,” she says. 

RSVP-Northern Virginia (Retired and Senior Volunteer Program) a program of Volunteer Fairfax, Volunteer Arlington and Volunteer Alexandria, will be holding its next free volunteer info session at 10:30 a.m., Friday May 10, at Volunteer Fairfax’s headquarter in Fairfax City. To register, please visit www.rsvpnova.org or call 703-403-5360.

RSVP offers more than 300 meaningful volunteer opportunities that support more than 40 of the top local nonprofits and agencies. RSVP volunteers like Shelley help seniors age in place, provide food for those in need and extend the capacity of local nonprofits. 

Shelley began sharing her time and talents through Volunteer Fairfax nearly 20 years ago. In addition to her work with RSVP, she also volunteers at least 8-12 hours per week for Volunteer Fairfax’s Volunteers For Change and Alternative Community Service programs, both managed by Kim Luckabaugh. 

Volunteers for Change provides flexible weekend and evening volunteer opportunities for busy adults with a desire to serve. Brosnan expanded her volunteering to RSVP in 2016. 

Shelley holds volunteer leadership positions in both RSVP and VFC. As an RSVP engagement leader, Brosnan helps shepherd new volunteers through the onboarding process and helps spread the word on the program at outreach events. 

The list of organizations Shelley supports encompasses a wide array of causes in Northern Virginia including Arlington Street Peoples Assistance Network, Food for Others, Children’s Science Center, Food and Friends, Britepaths, The Shepherd’s Center of Annandale-Springfield, FACETS, ALIVE! Food Distribution, Cornerstones, BRAWS, Toys for Tots and Together We Bake.

Shelley was a gold recipient of the Presidential Volunteer Service Award for 2018, donating more than 550 hours. “This is not the first time she has received that honor, as it is a regular event for her, one that she consistently downplays,” according to Hubicki. “Her heart is truly in the moment of helping others.”

Despite the enormity of hours she volunteers, Shelley still finds time to travel, read and go to the gym several times a week. “Believe it or not, I am able to fit all that in,” she says, thanks in part to the flexibility of scheduling and opportunities groups like RSVP and VFC offer. 

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“Shelley not only models a true volunteer spirit, but actively engages in the betterment of our community through her selflessness,” says Carly Hubicki, volunteer specialist with RSVP

“You get to decide what you want to do. You get to pick what is it that you enjoy and what has meaning and is fun for you,” she says of RSVP.

“Shelley not only models a true volunteer spirit, but actively engages in the betterment of our community through her selflessness,” says Hubicki. “Her friends frequently tell her that she is busier in retirement because of her volunteering than she was when she worked full time.”

“She cares so much about so many causes and people and needs that she literally is the type of person who would give you the shirt off of her back to care for you,” Luckabaugh says. 

“She is absolutely a role model. When I tell people who the volunteer is that has made the biggest impact in my life just by inspiration, it is Shelley Brosnan, without a doubt,” Luckabaugh says. 

In addition to providing the opportunity to “give back,” Shelley says she appreciates the social aspects of volunteering with RSVP, a program that offers free and personalized support to those 55 and better looking for meaningful, social and fun volunteer experiences.

“I like the chance to be able to meet other seniors. I have made friends through the program,” she says. 

One of those friends is RSVP and VFC volunteer Sue Dussinger. The two women met 13 years ago during a food distribution project with ALIVE in Old Town Alexandria, something they have continued to take part in every month ever since. Dussinger nominated Shelley for the RSVP honor. 

The two are also fixtures at RSVP’s monthly group service projects held at different nonprofits throughout the area, events that not only help others but serve as social occasions for volunteers. 

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RSVP-Northern Virginia volunteer Shelley Brosnan, right, times a competitor during the 2018 Northern Virginia Senior Olympics in Loudoun County.

What make Shelley so special?

“First of all, she is so willing, once she gets involved there is no stopping her,” Dussinger says. “She does not just do the job, she wants to get into it and know why she is doing it. Shelley has just got that certain drive. Volunteering and helping others is just so very important to her,” Dussinger says. 

She is very caring, very concerned with those less fortunate Dussinger says of her friend. “Shelley would help me in any way she could if I needed it.”

Hubicki says, “A need cannot exist around Shelley where she will not try everything in her power to help out.”

Shelley’s reasons for volunteering are many. One of her earlier memories of “giving back” was when her children were still in school. 

After being nominated for the Fairfax honor, Shelley sat down with RSVP’s Rob Paine earlier in April  to discuss why volunteering is such an integral  part of her life. You can listen to a short podcast of the interview here. 

“The giving back is so very important. The fact that I can maybe make a difference in the lives of others is what drives me, and it is also good for me,” she explains. “I think it’s (beneficial) both physically and mentally. You have to have a reason to get up in the morning. I love the opportunities I have. I just really enjoy it.”

“The people I talk to tell me, ‘we are so appreciative that you are doing the rides or that you are here helping,” Shelley says. “They are very appreciative. I am a lucky person. I am very fortunate that in retirement I am getting to do what I enjoy in life.”

Hubicki says Shelley’s dedication to service is evident in everything that she does and it inspires those around her. “Many of my other volunteers have commented on the amazing work that Shelley does and how it pushes them to do more.”

Janet Davison, RSVP-Northern Virginia’s program manager who has known Shelley for nearly a decade says, “Shelley is an incredible volunteer and leader whose impact is immeasurable. Somehow, Shelley always manages to do more, give more, care more. We are so lucky to have someone as special as Shelley.” 

Those interested in learning more about RSVP or in signing up for an upcoming RSVP event should contact RSVP-Northern Virginia at 703-403-5360, or email RSVP at rsvpnova@gmail.com or visit the RSVP website at www.rsvpnova.org. 

Would you  like to be like Shelley and join the largest volunteer program for those 55 or better looking for fun, social and meaningful  experiences?  Sign up for our next RSVP-Northern Virginia free info session taking place May 10 at the headquarters of Volunteer Fairfax in Fairfax City.  Click here to register!  You can also meet Shelley and discuss volunteering with RSVP at the 50+ Employment Expo taking place Tuesday, April 30, at the Marriott at Fair Oaks Mall where she will be staffing the RSVP booth.

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Volunteer Fairfax Board President Rick Garza is shown with Shelley Brosnan, center, and RSVP-Northern Virginia Volunteer Specialist Carly Hubicki  during this morning’s awards breakfast.

Be sure to pick up a copy of the Friday, April  26 Fairfax Times  which is scheduled to feature Shelley in its special Seniors tab.

After being nominated for the Fairfax honor, Shelley sat down with RSVP’s Rob Paine earlier in April  to discuss why volunteering is such an integral  part of her life. You can listen to a short podcast of the interview here. 

Thank you Shelley for everything you  do !

About RSVP

RSVP- Northern Virginia  offers more than 300 meaningful opportunities that include helping seniors age in place, assisting local food pantries, and teaching financial literacy. RSVP also recruits volunteers for various community events including the upcoming Northern Virginia Senior Olympics.

Each RSVP member  receives personalized support from our volunteer specialist who helps matches our volunteers with meaningful, social, convenient and fun volunteer experiences. This is a free service provided to all those 55 and better in RSVP’s service area.

RSVP volunteers enjoy flexible schedules, free accident and liability insurance while serving, optional mileage and meal reimbursement and are invited to volunteer group service projects and social gatherings.

Volunteering with RSVP is healthy, social and fun.

To learn more about RSVP, please visit www.rsvpnova.org.

RSVP-Northern Virginia is a program of Volunteer Fairfax, Volunteer Alexandria and Volunteer Arlington.

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