Volunteer Inspires Students to Make Time for Others
Chelmsford volunteer David Eberiel shares his reasons for volunteering.
David Eberiel's father was a volunteer and told young David early on that helping others is an important part of life.
"It was always impressed upon me," Eberiel said, "that you should give more than you take."
A Chelmsford resident, Eberiel was making a frequent shopping trip to the Merrimack Valley Food Bank on behalf of the Chelmsford Community Exchange when Patch caught up with the busy volunteer. He was happy to share his story while transporting food from the large food bank to the smaller pantry which serves more than 100 families each week.
"Dave does a lot of work for the pantry and is a great help," said Amy Pessia, Executive Director of the food bank.
Eberiel has been volunteering with the Chelmsford Community Exchange for several years now, often with assistance from his students from the University of Massachusetts Lowell where he is Professor Emeritus of Biological Sciences.
"It's always been important to me," Eberiel said, "to instill volunteerism in my students."
Currently, Edwin Kibui of Lowell, a Licensed Practical Nurse, has been helping Eberiel with food pantry trip for about a year. When Kibui leaves for a month to travel to Kenya, two of Eberiel's other students will fill in.
"Edwin's very helpful and reliable," said Eberiel of his student. "Wherever I go, I leave a trail of volunteers."
That trail has included past students, numerous EMTs from the UMass Lowell EMT program Eberiel founded, and many friends he has inducted into the world of volunteering.
"Everybody has to give back one way or another," Eberiel said. "Volunteering makes me feel good to know that I'm helping."
One of Eberiel's longest running volunteer activities has been his work with the Greater Lowell Walk for Hunger which he began in 1983 a year after the event started. Eberiel helped for many years, ran the event for a decade, and is still heavily involved.
"Each year we're able to donate about $3,500 to each local charity involved," Eberiel said. "We've donated about $500,000 in the 28 years it's been going."
Of course, it takes numerous people volunteering together for many hours to make such a large event a success. But you don't have to dedicate hours upon hours to be an effective volunteer to Eberiel. You just have to want to help and take some time to do so.
"Can't make time? That's just an excuse." Eberiel said. "Sometimes things get busy, but you can still find time."
Eberiel has found his volunteer work throughout the years to be interesting, challenging, and very enriching. He has also enjoyed meeting other people who value the experience of volunteering.
"I've made a lot of good friends," Eberiel said, "people who run the organizations, committees, and of course other volunteers."
After loading up his car with Kibui at the Merrimack Valley Food Bank, Eberiel drove to the Chelmsford Community Exchange to deliver the donations to the smaller pantry. The process of unloading the car (his choice of model was influenced by the needs of his volunteer activities) and organizing the pantry usually takes a few hours with another volunteer.
The pantry is in a tight space- a storage room in the basement of the Center for the Arts donated by the town- but the organization makes excellent use of every inch in the room. Their situation will change shortly once construction begins on the building.
"The town has been great and will supply us with a trailer in the parking lot during the construction," Eberiel said. "Our space will quadruple in size and we look forward to expanding our services. We're not quite sure how the return to a smaller size will go."
For more information on the Chelmsford Community Exchange and volunteer opportunities, visit their Web site.