Tellico Village resident Carol Crawford has invested six years of her retirement at the Good Samaritan Center of Loudon County.
The relationship began after she overheard a conversation about the nonprofit.
“They were talking about what they do here, and I just go, ‘Wow, I want to be a part of that’,” Crawford said. “That’s basically how it happens. You hear somebody talking and ask questions to find all about it. I came here and became a volunteer. It’s as easy as that.”
Crawford now finds herself involved in several roles. She didn’t come to Good Sam thinking she would be as plugged in as she is, but over time the situation simply “evolved.”
“Because you’re a volunteer and you think, ‘Oh, I’ll do that. I’ll do that’,” she said. “I like to keep busy and you’re busy when you work here, which is great. What I love is you’re helping those in your community. It’s hands-on and you can see the results.”
She serves as front desk volunteer, intake worker, events committee member, dental co-coordinator and board member.
Cindy Black, Good Sam executive director, said Crawford stepped up once the pandemic hit.
“She’s gone the extra mile on a lot of different areas and just being here and being available,” Black said. “... She’s just a pot of gold for us, and so we just really appreciate her.”
One significant undertaking has been her role as dental coordinator.
“One of her biggest tasks that we really worked on this year is that she and another volunteer named Peggy Baumgartner, they are our dental coordinators,” Black said. “That means everybody that calls in that needs dental assistance from us, Peggy and Carol they handle the files, they talk with the dentists, they get it set up, and they stay in contact with our clients that process their whole file and make sure that they make it to the dentist and get the services needed. That’s been a big help for us because the money for that came from our Trinity Foundation grant, and so it’s got to be managed and kept very good records on.”
Good Sam received the large grant from Trinity Health Foundation of East Tennessee in November.
“I wear a lot of hats,” Crawford said. “We are so blessed to be able to help fire victims. When the fire victim comes to us and they have found a new place to live, we are able to give them household items — house cans, towels, whatever they need to help them get back on their feet.
“... I’m an intake worker,” she added. “We were interviewing clients in person and now we do it over the phone. I’m also one of the dental coordinators. We are so fortunate to be able to offer dental services to those in Loudon County, and there is just really not much help at all when it comes to dental. We give the clients a $300 voucher, and we have a list of dentists that work with us, and we’re able to send them on their way to get extractions, fillings, whatever they might need.”
Prior to involvement with Good Sam, Crawford couldn’t volunteer in the community because of work and family. She moved to Tellico Village eight years ago after 17 years at Wes-Tech Automation in Buffalo Grove, Ill.
“I’m self-motivated,” she said. “When I worked professionally, I had somebody tell me, ask me, ‘What motivates you?’ I said, ‘I am self-motivated.’ I just love what I do and I’m passionate about it. I just don’t need anything more to motivate me.”
She said self-motivation is essential, especially as a volunteer at Good Sam.
“Through this pandemic Good Samaritan has not missed a step with servicing our clients, which I think is extraordinary,” Crawford said. “It’s all due to the teamwork we have here of the people leading us and I just think it’s remarkable that we’re still able to service our clients. We’re not seeing them inside the building, but we’re still able to take care of whatever they need.”
Evelyn Edwards, Good Sam pantry manager, has known Crawford since joining the organization.
“She’s amazing, very amazing,” Edwards said. “She has many, many hats that she wears here, and she volunteers even more. ... When she says she’s going to do something, she does it.”
Crawford doesn’t anticipate slowing down. She strongly recommends that people who want to do something worthwhile reach out to Good Sam.
“Knowing that I have the ability to help somebody,” she said. “For 20 minutes that they’re in front of me, that 20 minutes I can help change their outlook, help them, change their day, make their day better.”