Local Volunteers And The Thankless Work They Do

By Michael Malarkey

Amidst the nonstop negativity of daily news cycles, it’s important to celebrate local volunteers and the thankless work they do. Their efforts remind us to consider those who are less fortunate, and those seeking forgiveness for past errors. In this vein, it is good to know that the Good Samaritan spirit is alive and well in Pinal County! 

Among those working to brighten an often forgotten corner of the community are Neal Carter, Kathy Ernst, and Lori Leiman. These folks sacrifice time to help at local prisons, offering companionship and aid to those who are often overlooked. Their services include art classes, religious ceremonies, spiritual discussions, and more. While their work is not financially compensated, these volunteers feel they are receiving something far more valuable. 

For stand-up citizens like Kathy Ernst, this work is beyond fulfilling: 

“I’m drawn to this ministry because of the need. It’s a calling from God. When God calls, one must answer. The reward is gratitude from a grateful congregation… When you see a grown man, with tears streaming down his face, a life has been changed, a heart has been softened.” 

Neal Carter echoes this wholesome sentiment:

“Volunteering at the prison is an opportunity to do something for others who truly can’t repay you.  Their gratitude is real and is sincere, and it’s inspiring to see the hope that springs forth even in prison.”

Lori Leiman, President of the SanTan Women’s Club, also recognizes the greater purpose of such noble efforts. Once a month, Leiman and her club committee volunteer at women’s prisons, bonding with the inmates through art:

“The women are so pleased that we pay attention to them, and care about them, and that we are not forgetting about them. We have a wonderful feeling when we leave the prison because we are so appreciated.”

Such positivity often goes unrecognized– a fallback of our often hyper-individualistic society. Selfless volunteerism is a tenet of any healthy community, allowing us to realize the vital nature of civic engagement and find purpose through helping others. Hopefully, their work freshens your outlook, bolsters faith in your community, and perhaps even prompts similar action.  

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