Volunteer Voices: Door County Neighbor-to-Neighbor

Dorleen Buschmann had no idea what she was in for when a friend asked her to come with her to answer phones at Neighbor-to-Neighbor Volunteer Caregivers (N2N). Her friends had been volunteering there for a while and thought that Dorleen would enjoy it. Her husband had recently passed away, and she was looking for a “little something” to do; she felt lost.

Dorleen began helping out in the office and became a Peer Companion, a volunteer who befriends isolated or lonely residents of Door County. But her real calling came when N2N needed a medical equipment volunteer. She jumped in feet first and took over the huge task of sorting and distributing wheel chairs, walkers, crutches, and even hospital beds! (All of which are available at “No Charge” to those needing it.) Today you’ll find her over at Whispering Pines (one of the equipment locations – there are satellite locations in Baileys Harbor and Washington Island) as many as three times a day if necessary!

Nine years later, Dorleen continues to volunteer at N2N all because “it’s a wonderful way to meet people and to set a good example.”

Hadley Reetz recieves crutches from Neighbor to Neighbor after a recent foot surgery.

You see, Dorleen also brings her grandchildren with her in the summer when they come to visit. “They call me when they’re back home and ask, ‘Grandma, did you get any calls today?’ and then I tell them what I’ve been doing,” she said.

When I asked Dorleen how long she planned on doing this, she replied, “I don’t think I’m going to retire…being active keeps you younger.” No doubt about that!

Neighbor-to-Neighbor also provides a Respite Care program where volunteers step in to give caregivers a much needed break and hosts the Lemonade Club, a monthly cancer support group which meets the second Wednesday of each month at noon at the Ladder House in Sturgeon Bay.

Overall, N2N has served almost 1,000 clients in 2009 and has saved Door County residents more than $400,000 in medical expenses because they used N2N.

I believe the saying is, “Nobody can do everything, but everyone can do something.” How fitting for Dorleen who is definitely doing something – something that truly makes a difference.

For volunteer opportunities at N2N and other non-profit agencies in Door County, please visit or contact the Volunteer Center at 920.746.7704.

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