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Here’s to National Volunteer Week

This is National Volunteer Week, an honor that dates back to 1974. It’s one of a few times a year that we’re asked to step back and really appreciate those around us who go the extra mile to make our communities better.

In this week’s issues, we’ve been exploring the stories of volunteers from every corner of our coverage area in the Monadnock region, and we know there are many, many more out there. But we hope this sampling of the selfless giving that goes on all year long will inspire others to find their calling.

While all the stories featured this week are noteworthy, there were a few that were especially touching.

In Tuesday’s paper, Dean Vargas of Peterborough said he benefited from a low-income housing after-school program when he was a child, and that was the impetus for his volunteer work with the Pine View Children’s Program in Peterborough. And he isn’t getting any course credit for it.

There’s something that tugs at the heartstrings when we hear about people giving back in this way, and Vargas’ story is no exception. He’s captured in photographs with the children, playing, laughing and connecting. There’s no way to measure how his time, patience and caring may impact these children. But maybe one day, one of them will grow up and decide to give back the way he’s doing.

We also got chills reading about Nellia Hickerson of Wilton, another young person who’s found a way to help others. She’s a volunteer for the Crotched Mountain Foundation in Greenfield, working in the hospital. She started out volunteering as part of a program through Wilton-Lyndeborough Cooperative High School, but her participation in that program ended about four years ago; her service at Crotched Mountain did not. She’s still traveling there weekly.

Hickerson’s gift, according to the volunteer services coordinator for Crotched Mountain, is connecting with people, some of whom are non-verbal. We can’t help but feel that hers is a special gift meant to be shared with others, and we’re impressed that she’s found that out so early in life. She’s studying nursing at St. Anselm College in Manchester, which seems a fitting career for someone of her talents.

We were also in awe of Tina Somero, a New Ipswich mother of 10, who opens her home to city kids through the Fresh Air Fund program.

Being a mother is a special job in itself, so to hear that, in addition to her own large family, she makes room for others is inspiring. It takes a special person to care for children, especially a large group all at once and all day long.

These stories and the many others we highlight this week are a window into the world of volunteering. And for every time we don’t think we have a moment to spare for someone else in need, these volunteers — some of whom work full-time or go to school full-time — are reminders that when you are really committed to going beyond yourself and your own family, somehow there’s time enough for everything under the sun.

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