Today marks the start of Volunteer Appreciation Week.
Throughout the past year, volunteers have stepped up in a significant way to help out the community.
Non-profit organizations like United Way of Central Texas thrive from volunteer participation.
These days it's easy to use every excuse in the book as to why you shouldn’t volunteer or can't make time. However, for one volunteer, it literally means going the extra mile.
Sebastian Quintero started volunteering through the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program (VITA) that offers free tax filing help at United Way of Central Texas while finishing his degree.
“You know helping people, that was something that I really loved because I love my community and I love the Central Texas area," said Sebastian Quintero.
This Central Texas A&M grad has moved on to bigger and better things now working as a Staff Accountant for Energy in Houston.
Quintero still finds finding time to drive down to Temple every weekend to help with the VITA program.
“I mean it was a drive, like a 3 hour drive, but I’m fine with it," Quintero said.
A 3 hours drive every weekend from late February to early April is well over 2,300 miles total.
He's going the distance to help people he doesn’t even know.
“That’s one of things that I love the response that I get from people. You can see that feeling of gratitude they genuinely appreciate what we do,” Quintero said.
“It’s almost $50,000 and the community is getting because of their time because it’s offered for free,” said Veshell Greene, Vice President of Resource Development at A&M Central Texas.
Greene explains each hour a volunteer works at United Way of Central Texas equals about $27.20. Adding up all of Quintero's hours, and others who participate, totals nearly $50,000.
“We wouldn't be able to see almost 1000 clients and put in almost 1000 tax returns without Sebastian. It was even more impactful this year because of last year than it’s ever really been," Greene said.
2020 changed a lot for the non-profit, Greene explains, especially for their biggest fundraiser of the year. Volunteers stepped up once again to make things happen.
"We wouldn’t be able to make our fund-raising goal or exceed our fund-raising goal without Miss Seleese and Chrome and Carols," Greene said.
”All of the funds stay right here in Central Texas they go to help our neighbors and that to me is worth working for every day," said Seleese Thompson, a volunteer and on the Board of Directors for United Way Central Texas.
Seleese Thompson works all year round to prepare for the biggest fund-raisers of the year, Chrome and Carols.
"We start planing, as we are setting up that years event, we are already looking ahead to the next year and looking at how we can improve. It's a lot of fun and its been a great growing experience for people coming together. It's motivating and give you such a great sense of accomplishment," said Thompson.
Even if you can't drive over 2,300 miles to volunteer or work a little bit every day for a massive fund-raiser, all three agree any time you can give will go a long way.
“It’s a great opportunity I will tell you just to give it a shot because you never know what’s gonna happen," said Quintero.
"You always in some way get back double what you put in," Thompson said.
“We cannot do the things that we do without the good generous hearts of our community. I mean we can’t. You are wanted you are valuable and we cannot do these things without you," Greene added.
United Way of Central Texas will be showcasing their volunteers all week on their Facebook page, so be sure to swing by and show your support.
For more information about how you can volunteer click here.