Family-Style Volunteering

Good deeds multiply when you do them together
Author: Amy Lynn Smith

If you’ve ever volunteered, you know how satisfying it can be to help others. When you volunteer as a whole family, everyone reaps the benefits. This contribution creates a greater sense of community while you support places of worship, schools and nonprofit organizations. For many parents, teaching their kids the value of giving to others is as crucial as teaching them their ABCs.

“It’s important to reach out and help others. It’s what life is all about,” says Jolene Scicchitano, a volunteer county captain for the Eastern Pennsylvania Chapter of the National Hemophilia Foundation (NHF). 

The Eastern Pennsylvania chapter has 10 county captains, each of whom coordinates activities in his or her area, often for the ­benefit of other families with bleeding disorders, says Executive Director Curt Krouse. There are many ways to volunteer, he says. Ask your NHF chapter, local hospital or hemophilia treatment center (HTC) how you can help.

Fun, Fitness and Fundraising

Jolene turned to NHF for support after her eldest son Jake, now 27, was diagnosed with severe hemophilia A. She and her husband, Sam, have two other sons with hemophilia: Seth, 25, and Ben, 21.

Fundraising makes it possible for the chapter to help families like the Scicchitanos attend national NHF conferences. It also helps to fund college scholarships like the one now benefiting her sons. So Jolene set her mind on raising funds for the chapter. It started eight years ago with a “Fun and Fitness Day” the Scicchitanos organized at the local high school. Activities included mini basketball tournaments and Zumba®. Local businesses donated food to sell at the event.

Since then, the annual event has transitioned into a dance. The sons help with tasks from picking up the food and raffle items to collecting money at the door. For the last five years, this dance has raised about $1,200 for the Eastern Pennsylvania NHF chapter.

“The chapter helps so many people. It’s taught our boys how good it feels when someone is there for you,” Jolene says. She believes involving her sons in these activities from an early age has made them more empathetic, especially to people with health issues.

Walking the Walk

Alison Bartko and her family have taken a similar do-it-yourself approach to volunteering with their local NHF chapter in Las Vegas. Bartko and her husband, John, have three children: Abigail, 12; Emily, 10; and A.J., 2. Emily and A.J. both have afibrinogenemia, a type of factor I deficiency. In 2007, the family got involved with a 5K fundraising run and helped raise $3,000 for the Nevada chapter. Motivated by that success, the family now helps with the chapter’s annual walk. “We help with other events, but this is the one we can really do as a family,” says Alison.

Now that the Bartko girls are older, they pitch in by asking for donations from their friends and teachers. The family encourages members of the community to walk for Team Emily and A.J. The Bartkos have raised nearly $60,000 in seven years. 

The funds support the chapter’s programs, including a summer camp the Bartko daughters attend. But the Bartkos’ primary motivation for volunteering is helping others. “We’re raising our children to see volunteering as something everyone should do,” ­Alison says. “The fact that they can see their hard work paying off makes it that much more worthwhile.”