Gerry Voisine: UTSA volunteer coordinator recognized for service at elementary school
By Alison Beshur
Public Affairs Specialist
(July 12, 2006)--Gerry Voisine never tires of finding ways to help others.
For her service as a mentor at Herff Elementary, the San Antonio Independent School District has awarded Voisine the Outstanding Mentor/Volunteer Award, one of four awards given annually to recognize outstanding partners in San Antonio.
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Voisine, a volunteer coordinator at UTSA's Institute of Texan Cultures, has helped students at Herff with reading assignments, craft projects, garden planting and other activities for six years. Before volunteering at Herff, Voisine helped out at Travis Elementary.
"I learned at a young age the rewards of volunteering," said Voisine, who landed her first paid job out of a volunteer position. "There is the excitement of learning a new skill, the enjoyment of making new friends and the pleasure of filling a need."
Mary Ellen Smith, ITC director of volunteer programs, called Gerry an "inspiration" and noted the size of the district that recognized Voisine.
"The SAISD has more than 56,000 students enrolled in more than 90 schools, and for Gerry to have been singled out for recognition is quite an achievement," Smith said. "She is so humble about everything she does that I don?t think she would?ve told me if she hadn?t been concerned that I might hear it from someone else."
Despite her recent recognition, Voisine insists she is the beneficiary of her time spent serving the first through fourth graders. "They are sponges soaking up everything and eager to learn," Voisine said. "There is little that can match the warm feeling you get as you walk in and everyone (without prompting) says, 'Hi, Ms. Gerry' and demonstrates they are happy to see you. All of the students vie to be the one (or ones) chosen to work with me."
Additionally, Voisine said her volunteer service elsewhere enhances her work with volunteers and docents at UTSA's ITC, where she has worked for more than 22 years.
"Doing so helps remind me of why people volunteer, what makes a good experience," Voisine said.