In honor of National Volunteer Week, April 19-25, United Way of Northeast Florida is highlighting outstanding community volunteers dedicated to making a difference all year long.
Never seen without a smile, his pick-up truck and a toolbox, Peter Madorma has dedicated more than five years of service atPace Center for Girls in Jacksonville. Reliable, committed and always willing to lend a helping hand, Peter’s work ethic has been called “the embodiment of what it means to care for one’s community.”
Here’s what Peter had to say about his philanthropic journey as a Northeast Florida changemaker:
Describe the person or event that inspired you to give back to the community.
Ana Serrano, a longtime volunteer of Pace Jacksonville, gave me a little brief about Pace years before I started volunteering. I learned about the experiences that some of our Pace girls have had through no fault of their own. I have four granddaughters who could have had the same experiences, and that’s when I knew I had to volunteer here.
What would you say is the most rewarding aspect about volunteering?
The inner feeling that you get from knowing you’ve done a little bit to help the girls. One day, a Pace girl came up to me with a necklace that had little beads on it. She gave that to me to say thank you. I started to tear up. It’s things like this that keep you going.
Describe the moment you realized your volunteer efforts were making a real difference.
It was the day that I got that necklace. And when I’m in the Center just working and I hear, “Hi, Mr. Pete!” That “Mr. Pete” gets me. It’s a great feeling that the girls recognize you and know that you are there to help them. It’s a great feeling.
If you could inspire people to do one thing to make Northeast Florida a better community, what would that be and why?
Go out and look and see what your neighbor may need a hand with. During this pandemic, I check on my neighbors across the street before I go to the grocery store and say, “Hey, do you need anything?” It’s great to just help one another.
What advice would you give someone on the fence about whether or not they should volunteer in their community.
Just come out one day with me and you’ll be hooked. You have to ask yourself, “What do you want to leave behind?” I’ve gone through life and I’ve had my ups and downs, but I’ve had a very good life. You just have to give some of that back. That’s what I would tell them. Take a look at what you have and see if you can share that with people; whether that’s a skill or just offering someone a ride.
How you can help
Because of the global pandemic, people like you are needed now more than ever to uplift the most vulnerable in our community. Nonprofits are experiencing a critical shortage of volunteers due to social distancing. And we must also be equipped with the resources to support thousands of people suffering from the economic damage caused by COVID-19, many who were struggling to make ends meet before the pandemic. Together, we can help those in need overcome the crisis we’re experiencing today — and the ones they experience every day. Because change doesn’t happen alone.