As I sat down at the linen station in the warehouse to visit with Linda Cole, a volunteer at The Caring Place since 2010, I immediately realized how terrible I’d be at her job. I am convinced the world is divided into people who can fold a fitted sheet and those who cannot. I am the latter. Or perhaps there is a third category: those who become proficient at folding fitted sheets after over ten years of doing so. In this category, there is Linda. “I’m not that good at it either. Or wasn’t. But it’s been a while, a long time. And I’ve always done this same job. Initially, I didn’t want to. But then you make friends and you keep going.” Linda explained how she initially planned to volunteer in the Food Pantry, but, at the time, volunteers were needed in the linen department. Linda started with linens and stuck with linens because she said, “You gotta have linens, let’s face it! Everybody needs linens, so there you go.” Laughing, Linda added, “Plus, nothing terrible ever happens with the linens.” I guess this is true, so long as you don’t find bins of fitted sheets terrifying.
In the early 2010s, Linda, newly moved to Georgetown from Houston, was looking to get involved in the community. “I knew I wanted to volunteer somewhere, so I asked people where I should go. I was directed here again and again by word of mouth. I always volunteered, and I knew I wanted to continue.” When she first came to The Caring Place, Linda was most impressed by the range of services. She understands, “You know, a lot of times if you need help, it’s really hard to find that help. And you get turned away a lot. When I would come here to work, there would be a porch full of people sitting and waiting to come in.” And they weren’t turned away. Instead, Linda has witnessed help here for people who can’t get it anywhere else. For instance, she remembers a situation vividly: “A woman came here. She had small children, and her car had broken down. The Caring Place was her only hope to get to work. They saw to it. And she had no other place to go. There’s a real need, for maybe even just a one-time help. Maybe you only need help one time, but, when you need it, you need it right then and there. You don’t have time to go from this place to this place to this place. At The Caring Place, you don’t have to do that.” The situation she described is not at all uncommon but much like those that The Caring Place regularly assists. Her work in linens, and the work of every volunteer, contributes to this effort.
Linda’s desire to connect with the community was fulfilled. Not only does her work support The Caring Place mission, but she has also met others who share these values and they have become good friends. When asked about her favorite part of being a volunteer, Linda quickly and easily answered, “The other volunteers. That’s a huge reason we come.” In her years here, Linda has developed what she calls “our little group. Nancy’s the newest. Marilyn and I have probably been working together, oh, 5 or 6 years. Every week.” The volunteers in this “little group” of good friends all come from different parts of town, so The Caring Place has allowed them to know and regularly see Georgetown neighbors from different areas. As far as the actual folding and sorting of the linens, Linda says, “oh I don’t love that, but I still love this,” gesturing to the other volunteers at work. Her heart for the organization—both for the people who work here and the people who it provides for—makes it so she does love her work. Friends ensure even folding fitted sheets is not only bearable but fun!