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Age no concern for NYSARC volunteer

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CANTON - At a young 83 years, Myrtle Butterfield is the “wow” factor in volunteerism.

Her enthusiasm is infectious and there is a palpable sense of joy when she walks into the room. Perhaps the most shocking fact about Myrtle is that she is a full-time college student with a 4.0 GPA.

When school is not in session, Myrtle dedicates her time six days a week to the St. Lawrence NYSARC’s Community Programs. This is a role she has cherished for more than three years. She says, “I have found a home away from home at SLNYSARC’s Community Center with all the amazing, loving, talented individuals who avail themselves of its services. They complete my world.”

Myrtle is a hands-on part of the team and takes on a variety of responsibilities. Some of her favorite aspects of the “job” include: helping the actors memorize lines for public performances, assisting people who are learning to read during Book Club, motivating the Martial Arts group, and taking trips during Saturday travel activities.

Through her college classes, Myrtle has honed her poetry skills and has found great enjoyment working with the Creative Writing class. She is excited to explore poetry and other forms of written expression with people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

Myrtle is a farmer’s daughter and the eldest of six, born and raised in St. Lawrence County. When she is not volunteering or studying, Myrtle spends time with her four children, 10 grandchildren and eight great grandchildren.

Her devotion to people with developmental disabilities began with her sister, Mary; a person with Down Syndrome. Mary was placed in an institution at a young age, and Myrtle advocated to mover her sister to a home in the Sunmount district of the Office for People with Developmental Disabilities (OPWDD) located in Tupper Lake. It is certainly fitting that Myrtle now works for St. Lawrence NYSARC through the OPWDD Senior Companion Program.

Myrtle has developed strong bonds with many program participants and is considered a trusted friend. “I like to hang out with Myrtle,” said Jim Winters. “She talks to me about my life and helps go through things in my mind. I know she is always there for me. Myrtle is terrific.”

This month, Myrtle starts her last semester before she graduates with an associate’s degree in December. She has yet to decide if she will go on for the bachelor’s degree, but one thing is for sure: Myrtle is no where near ready to begin retirement. And that is wonderful news for her friends at St. Lawrence NYSARC.

——

The NYSARC Experience

~ By Myrtle Butterfield, Volunteer

I entered this amazing world of warmth, love and sharing

And experienced being part of a community, of caring.

I was made to feel a part of this upbeat clime.

I knew it would become home in nano-second time.

The atmosphere was permeated with the aura of bliss

And I rejoiced to no end to become part of all this.

The mundane beat of the outside world and its trials

Vanished in the mist when I heard ‘Hello!’ and saw the smiles.

In this haven (or is it heaven?) that I have found and embrace

Exists equality, freedom, opportunity and, for me, a better place

To expend and expand all these ‘Golden Years’ that I am living.

‘Tis a two-way street where if found getting while giving.

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