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DESC volunteer inspired by loss “satisfies her soul” through volunteerism

April 14, 2022

In honor of National Volunteer Week, April 17-23, United Way of Northeast Florida is highlighting outstanding community volunteers dedicated to making a difference all year long. 

For more than eight years, Gaylon Hynes, has volunteered with DESC in the clothing ministry. Described as hard working, extremely passionate and kind, Gay is known for her attentiveness to people in need and goes out of her way to find help. Not only does Gay volunteer regularly with DESC, she also runs a consignment booth benefiting DESC at Southern Crossing Antiques Mall and volunteers in the clinic at the Community Health Outreach, using her skills and experience gained in her career as a registered nurse.

Here’s what Gay has to say about being a Northeast Florida Changemaker:


  • Describe the person or event that inspired you to give back to the community.

I have always felt particularly drawn to babies and children. As a young teen, I lost my infant brother to a sudden illness. He taught me that giving love and nurturing satisfies my soul and brings meaning to my life. I could not help him, but I could reach out to others. I began volunteering at St. Vincent’s hospital at 14, spending most of my time in the pediatric ward with the little ones whose families could not be with them.

  • What would you say is the most rewarding aspect about volunteering?

It is rewarding to make a positive change in someone’s life — no matter how small. Sometimes that means providing warm clothes, food for a struggling family, guiding them to mental health services, or babysitting so that they can attend classes, a gentle nudge in a good direction, etc.

  • Describe the moment you realized your volunteer efforts were making a real difference.

Most often, volunteering means giving of yourself without seeing a significant, quick change in the recipients’ circumstances. Faith and hope are your best allies.

I did tutor an immigrant child for 2 years. He spoke minimal English, was withdrawn and could not read at all. At the end of those years, he had blossomed. He was outgoing and could read proficiently, thus improving his life experience and also that of his entire family.

  • Why is it important to help communities who are often overlooked?

There is so much potential within all groups. Many just need a little help or guidance to realize that potential. They are capable of contributing so many positive things to our society. Some of them may even be able to change our world if given the opportunity.

A child who is malnourished, can have poor brain development. Perhaps a few meals a month can optimize his cognitive abilities. The adults will have more energy and motivation to improve their circumstances (and be better parents) when food is no longer a crisis.
Warm clothes contribute to health. Guidance for mental health care can stabilize an entire family. Children with special gifts and abilities can be directed to resources that their community members may be unaware of, thus changing that family’s experience of the world.

Society can only benefit by recognizing and optimizing the potential of all its members regardless of race, color, ethnicity, gender or any other arbitrarily criteria for marginalization.

  • What does it mean to you to “amplify good”?

You can amplify good by taking all the positive ideas, programs and incredibly dedicated helpers out in our community and adding you own caring and abilities to make those things better, more easily accessed — help them grow!

Because change doesn’t happen alone, people like you are needed now more than ever to uplift the most vulnerable in our community. You can find a variety of community service projects at unitedwaynefl.org/volunteer.