Volunteer Voices

The weekend before I started my job at the Volunteer Center, I thought it would be a good idea for me to go in the office, check out the files and see what my new job would entail. The previous director had taken a new job four months prior, so the office hadn’t physically been occupied for a while. So, I walked in the door, turned on the computer and started to look things over. I had no idea of how many files could begin with the letter “V.” It was “Volunteer Requests,” “Volunteer Associations,” “Volunteer Guides,” “Volunteer Websites”…it went on and on and on and before I knew it, I was completely overwhelmed.

I came home and I cried. My poor family, who had really never seen me this way, spent the next two hours talking with me, encouraging me and trying to help me put things in perspective. But at the end of those two hours, still crying, my husband, not knowing what else he could do for me, suggested three little words: Call. Your. Sister.

My sister lives in Racine and is two years older than me, so I’m used to going to her for advice. We always say an hour on the phone is still cheaper than an hour of therapy, so I picked up the phone, and, after an hour of “talking me off the cliff,” she said, “hold on a minute.” When she came back on the phone, she told me that she talked with my brother-in-law and told him that she hadn’t heard me this upset since the day I turned 30. To which he said, “You better go.”

So three hours later, almost to the minute, she appeared in Sturgeon Bay and she and I, along with my then-11-year-old daughter, appeared on my mother’s doorstep with wine and a box of brownies. The next day, she went with me to the office, we looked things over, and came up with a game plan. For the next week, she called every day to “check in” and see how I was doing.

I’m choosing to tell this story because it always reminds me that everyone, no matter how strong or “together” we may seem to be, needs a little help now and then.

The nonprofit agencies of Door County that I’ve gotten to know so well over the past four years remind me of my family. They talk with those who need help, come up with a plan, lay things out one by one so that things don’t seem so overwhelming and rescue those that need rescuing. Some agencies provide entertainment for those who need an escape and others preserve the beauty of a remarkably beautiful area for all to enjoy.

But to the volunteers of Door County, you are like my sister. You drop everything at a moment’s notice when we don’t know where else to turn. You never hesitate and frequently put your own lives on hold when we call you crying for help. You’re there when a frozen pipe bursts and we’re trying to move files in a panic. You’re there at every fundraising event, bidding on silent auction items so that we can make a little more money, and you’re there when we’re wondering how we’re going to pay the bills, so you come and lick envelopes for hours so that we can send out a last-minute donation request. No matter what, you’re always there.

So, after four years, I’m leaving what I’ve called “the best job in the world” for another incredible adventure. The people that I’ve met along the way, the organizations that I’ve come to know and the work that I’ve come to appreciate so much more than I ever thought I could, will always be a part of me. Our motto at the Volunteer Center is “Connecting People. Changing Lives.” I know that I’ve been blessed to do both and am forever grateful that I showed up for that first day of work.

Pam Seiler recently accepted the position of executive director of the Sturgeon Bay Visitor Center. Maureen Murphy will fill the executive director position at the Volunteer Center of Door County. Murphy’s official start date is Nov. 3.

For volunteer opportunities throughout Door County, visit or call the Volunteer Center at 920.746.7704.