Cheryl Rodriguez’s desire to give back began in high school and has been an important part of her life. So when her family moved from Florida to Bluffton in 2019, she immediately sought out meaningful volunteer opportunities.
It was particularly important that her family continue their longstanding tradition of volunteering during the Thanksgiving season – a tradition that started before she married her husband, Frank. She and Frank would pack and deliver meals to shut-ins and folks who were struggling, then go to Frank’s family’s house in Miami to celebrate the holiday.
Thanksgiving 2019 was the first time the Rodriguezes weren’t close to extended family, so Cheryl knew their former traditions would be upended. However, she was committed to ensuring one tradition continued – volunteering.
“When I realize that the many advantages I have in life are not of my doing, it’s very clear that I must volunteer to help lift others up,” Cheryl said. “I want my kids to learn this as well. I don’t want them to feel entitled. I want them to look at others who may not have the same advantages and really know them.”
Though she couldn’t find an activity that exactly mirrored what the family had done in Florida, she found an opportunity for the entire family at the Boys & Girls Club of Bluffton’s Annual Chili Dinner, which occurs close to Thanksgiving.
The event, held during National Family Week, joins members and their families at a community dinner. They celebrate the members’ academic, volunteer and sports accomplishments, and provide a forum for the kids to share their gratitude. Cheryl knew this was the right fit.
“Our whole family was able to help with the event,” Cheryl says. “We helped the younger kids carry their food to the tables and we helped clean up. The kids were super nice and we really enjoyed watching the members receive their awards. It was a great experience and we will absolutely do it again.”
Cheryl found this volunteer opportunity on Community Foundation of the Lowcountry’s Lowcountry Volunteer Connections (LVC) portal. Through LVC, Cheryl created a profile that includes her interests and skills; LVC sends her notifications when an opportunity is a match. “It allows you to not have to scroll through hundreds of things that don’t interest you or are things you’re not able to do,” Cheryl says. “It lets you pick and choose what is the best fit.”
Cheryl’s philosophy on volunteering reflects a humbling appreciation for what she’s been given in life, and she and her family will continue to “lift others up” through volunteering.
For information about volunteer opportunities, visit the LVC page at cf-lowcountry.org.
Jackie Rosswurm, PhD is the interim president and CEO Community Foundation of the Lowcountry.