By Ana Pagotto


Marathons are a long journey. The volunteers of the Celebration Foundation come out every year to assist with cheering on the runners and manning the water stations for the Celebration Marathon.  I was able to be one of the volunteers to help this year.



On a beautiful afternoon in 2016, while watching a concert sponsored by the Celebration Foundation at Lakeside Park, my husband and I met Mary Pat, who was the manager of Thriving In Place at the time. She and her husband were cleaning up after the event. We helped them stack the chairs. Mary Pat, with her kind smile, looked at us and said, “We need people like you,” and handed us a business card with her contact information. This was how I became a volunteer in our community and part of a wonderful group called Thriving In Place, a program by the Celebration Foundation.


Where did I begin volunteering?


My first experience as a volunteer was when I was 11 years old in Brazil.  Encouraged by my mother, I went to help a nursery that took care of needy children while their mothers worked to guarantee the family’s livelihood. My duties at that moment were to help with homework and play with the kids. Our small group made a difference in the lives of the children we served in the program. It made a difference in my life, too.


We often think that by “donating” our time we are helping those in need, and we are. Yet, volunteers receive appreciation, gratitude, and love, as well. It is a win-win. That is what I truly believe and how I am raising my two little kids, so they can be agents of a better world, as well.


Remember, any marathon starts with the first step!


If you are interested in volunteering with the Celebration Foundation, reach out today.  Please email or call the Celebration Foundation at 407-566-1234.