Saturday, March 09, 2002

Volunteering is family tradition

No matter how busy, 'She never says no'

By Janet C. Wetzel
Enquirer Contributor

        Helping others comes naturally to Cecelia Thompson. The only daughter in her family of 10, she watched her older brothers spend many hours volunteering as she grew up in Middletown.

        When her own children became students, she began volunteering in their schools, and over the years, she's been dipping her helping hands into a wide variety of area organizations.

[photo] Cecelia Thompson volunteers in an art class at the Middletown Community Center.
(Michael Snyder photo)
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        Today, Mrs. Thompson is active every week with Butler County Mental Retardation and Developmental Disabilities (MRDD). She's worked on and off since 1984 helping with the Special Olympics, computer classes, art classes and other needs as they arise.

        She also spends five to 25 hours a week volunteering with the Alcohol and Chemical Abuse Council of Butler County, a prevention program. Since 1994 she's helped with annual six-day college tours, with workshops and chaperoning events.

        Mrs. Thompson, 53, works full time for the City of Middletown's parks and recreation department, as a recreation administrator at the Middletown Community Center. But she always makes time for her volunteer endeavors.

        For the past three years, she's also worked with the End Zone Club of Middletown, a small group of adult volunteers who help students excel academically and socially. The adults encourage students not only to stay in school and make good grades, but also to make good decisions to keep their lives on track. And she helps out the football and basketball volunteer groups at Middletown High School, Middie Moms and the Basketball Club.

        Dorothy Barnes, a prevention coordinator with the Alcohol and Chemical Abuse Council of Butler County, said Mrs. Thompson puts her volunteer work and her community before herself.

        “She works long hours helping everyone that she can. She never says no,” Mrs. Barnes said. “I don't know how she survives doing so much. ... She's like the Godmother of Middletown.”

        Her efforts have not gone unnoticed.

        In November 2001, Mrs. Thompson was awarded the YMCA's highest annual honor, the Stuart Ives Award, for outstanding service to youths. Her brother, Pete Snow, won the award four years ago.

        Mrs. Thompson sees nothing unusual about what she does.

        “I was brought up in a family that always felt it was better to help others,” Mrs. Thompson said. “My brothers volunteer all the time. I'm next to the baby, and they often recruited me to help out.

        “I'm living by their example. It's an important thing in my life helping others. I feel blessed. Working with the youth, and especially MRDD, is so rewarding. I pull my strength from them. They have so much to give.”

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