When Lou and Daniele Covotsos’ son was injured in a rock climbing accident, they were at the receiving end of generosity and goodness of people they knew and many they didn’t. It is because of this kindness that they now work hard to pay it back through volunteering.
“People brought food, they remodeled our house so that it was wheelchair accessible; our community helped and lifted us through a very difficult time,” the Covotsos remember. “Now it’s our turn to give back.”
And give back they do! Lou, a retired law firm administrator and teacher of legal analysis at Loyola University, found a position editing articles for PFLAG’s monthly newsletter through the Volunteer Center website.
“I thought this was a way for me to use my strengths and knew it would be a good fit,” said Lou. Daniele, a retired Chicago public school kindergarten teacher, found her “perfect fit” at Northern Door Children’s Center.
“We kept passing by and one day we just stopped in,” recalls Daniele. “They were so gracious and welcoming there. There was just no way I could say no. I fell in love with everything.”
After moving to Door County fulltime in 2010, the Covotsos’ wanted to feel they were part of the community. Volunteering was a way they could do that. “We loved the ‘big city’ and took advantage of the opportunities there, but personality wise, we’re small town people. When we think of all the people we’ve met through volunteering, that alone is one of the best things to come out of our experiences.”
Lou and Daniele have certainly taken advantage of all the volunteer opportunities Door County has to offer. Lou teaches a winter session class at The Clearing and Daniele works in the bookstore. Lou also assists with feeding at Good Samaritan-Scandia Village, something that he recalls “stretched my comfort level.” Today, he’s been there almost three years. At the Door Community Auditorium, the Covotsos’ began ushering and are now usher coordinators.
But for as much as this might seem for some, Lou and Daniele are quick to point out that volunteering can be as big or little as you want it to be. “Volunteering doesn’t interfere with our lives. It’s not a burden in time or energy for us. From a purely selfish point of view, my involvement has been a growing experience for me. It makes me feel like a part of something and a better person as a result of it,” Lou explains.
The Covotsos’ look at volunteering as an opportunity to continuously expand and learn. They believe that’s the way life should be – you either grow or you stagnate. “When we were growing up, our parents had their jobs and their kids but not much beyond that. After they retired, they had neither; they didn’t seem fulfilled. They were happy, just not fulfilled.” The Covotsos’ believe volunteering gives you the chance to learn something new, meet interesting people and shows you what life has to offer.
One of the best parts of my job at the Volunteer Center is I get the opportunity to meet volunteers such as Lou and Daniele and hear their stories. Everyone has a story but it’s how you choose to write that story that gives your life value. As for Lou and Daniele, I’d say they are two very rich people in how they’ve chosen to write their story and the Door County community is richer because of them. How are you going to write your story?
To receive volunteer information or to see what volunteer opportunities are available, visit VolunteerDoorCounty.com or call 920.746.7704 to request a Volunteer Guide. The Volunteer Center is located at 62 S. Third Avenue in Sturgeon Bay.