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  • Writer's pictureElaine Berberich

Volunteers do not necessarily have the time; they just have the heart.

William Shakespeare once said, "the meaning of life is to find your gift, and the purpose of life is to give it away."
Even those currently employed find ways to give back to this community and world, and many choose to volunteer in an area opposite their profession. It may be simply giving a meal to someone sick or helping build a house for an underprivileged family.

Some move here and want to volunteer but are unaware of the opportunities available. This article aims to do short interviews with individual volunteers and make the community aware of what they are doing. The POA directory offers a wealth of information regarding volunteer opportunities with POA committees and opportunities in the Harbour and the New Bern area. This two-part article will highlight more of your neighbors and provide information on volunteer opportunities.

Alzheimer's foundation

left to right: Walk to End Alzheimer's team last fall. Barbara Franz after Walk to End Alzheimer's and a companion.

Barbara Franz will be busy raising money at the Fairfield Harbour Yard Sale on April 1, when she sells great second-hand treasures and donates all the money to the Alzheimer's foundation. She can be found under the display of purple colors. Barbara's mother died from dementia, and during that time, she realized the terrible effects the disease could have on the family.

After losing her amazing mother to this disease, her mission was to support Alzheimer's research. With the support of her Fairfield neighbors, Barbara has successfully raised $1,000 three years in a row.

Barbara is from Cedar Falls, Iowa, and was born without ears or an ear canal and was unable to hear. She was mainstreamed in school, received a teaching degree, and taught a self-contained class for the deaf and hard of hearing for almost 25 years. She uses these skills to lead an introductory signing class in Fairfield Harbour on the first Tuesday of the month(fingerspelling). On the third Thursday of the month, she introduces basic vocabulary signs. Classes are held on the first Tuesday and the third Thursday of each month at 4 pm at the Activity Center. There are no classes during June, July, and August, but they resume in September.

Barbara actively participates in the Alzheimer’s Walk every year and raises money for the cause with her volunteers. This year the Walk to End Alzheimer’s will be held in downtown New Bern on October 21, 2023. Along with the walking volunteers, Tom and Joan Meutsch (Tom & Darlin’) volunteer by singing for the event and encouraging the walkers.

Merci Clinic

Many of those with medical backgrounds have found volunteer homes at Merci Clinic. MERCI Clinic is a non-profit community clinic, staffed primarily by volunteers, which provides free health care services for adults of Craven, Pamlico, and Jones counties who are of limited income and without medical or dental insurance. Close to one thousand patients receive care each year.

Retired medical personnel and those who want to help with much-needed services are always welcome.

Merci recently appointed a new director, Lynda Meyers, who brings a wealth of experience to managing a non-profit organization. To volunteer at Merci, visit the website at or call Lynda Meyer at 252-633-1599. ( Elaine Berberich has been volunteering for several years and would gladly provide any information about volunteering at the clinic.

New Bern Woman’s Club - many charities and volunteer opportunites.
Precious Purses collection at Fairfield Harbour.

In addition to her active involvement around Fairfield Harbour, Chris Skrotsky has been with New Bern Woman’s Club since 2007. She has served as the treasurer and first vice president and is currently president.

The club's primary purpose is service to the community. The club has been involved in projects such as the clean-up after the great fire of 1923, the transformation of Union Point Park, and clean-up projects after Hurricane Florence.

A past resident of Fairfield Harbour, Barb Lubsen, started the Art Bear sculptures along with artist Vickie Vitale within the club. Recently, the club collected over 200 purses and supplies for women in March. All have gone to good causes like Coastal Woman’s Shelter, True Justice International, My Sister’s House, RCS, and Salvation Army. Fairfield Harbour has actively supported Precious Purses and the Holly and Ivy December fundraiser. Chris and her

Liz Maravelas, Peggy Gilbert, and Mimi Waltrous with 2nd half of FFH generous contributions to Precious Purses.

husband, Rob, are accomplished sailors who traveled for two years before settling in Fairfield Harbour in 2003. Chris joined the club to meet women beyond her circle in Fairfield Harbour. She quickly found a home with this group of women who do important things that may impact the lives of one person, group, or community. The club meets the first Thursday of each month, September - May, at the New Bern Golf & Country Club. If interested, contact Chris Skrotsky or go to the club website

Backpack blessings
Backpack blessings getting food together to go home with children.

Like many others, Ann Hall found volunteer opportunities with her church. When she retired, Ann and her husband, George, moved here from Wake County to seek water access and sailing opportunities.

Ann's love has always been working with children. Ann quickly volunteered when her church, Garber United Methodist, "adopted" J.T. Barber Elementary school, a low socio-economic school with 100% complimentary breakfast and lunch.

Ann gets up, travels from Fairfield Harbour each Tuesday and Thursday, and helps greet the school children getting off the bus with high-fives, hugs, smiles, and encouraging words. She also helps pack the weekend Backpack Blessings, which provides weekend food for families. Over half the school receives these food bags. Backpack Blessings is a group formed in 2012 to feed hungry children in eastern North Carolina. Over 20 churches and area groups support this program, serving around 800 students. Builds (assembling bags) are held four times a year. If interested in this program, contact Ruth Powers at Garber United Methodist Church.

Ann Hall at Backpack Blessings.

Like many volunteers, Ann feels she gets more than she gives and leaves school every week with a big smile, stories, and excitement for the rest of her day.

Karen Powers recently retired here to join her husband, Jim, after working more than 30 years as a Pediatric Cardiac intensive care physician at the University of Rochester (N.Y.). She immediately discovered volunteerism and got involved with the Boys and Girls Club, Backpack Blessings, J.T. Barber school, and the Trent Woods Garden Club. The Boys and Girls Clubs provide after-school programs, including tutoring, and desperately need volunteers in New Bern.

"Girls on the Run"
Karen Powers with her GOTR team.

Karen is an avid recreational runner and found the perfect place for her talents at the YMCA, coaching a "Girls on the Run" team. GOTR is a national non-profit organization based in Charlotte, NC, with a designed program to strengthen third- to fifth-grade girls’ social, emotional, physical, and behavioral skills to navigate life’s experiences through the experience of running. It is a ten-week program, and at the end, the group completes a 5 K together. Twin Rivers YMCA offers several Girls on the Run, Heart, and Sole (for girls in 6-8th grade) and Stride (3-5th grade boys) after school.

Karen Powers after completing a successful run.

She combined her love of children and gardening at the Trent Woods Garden Club, where she works with the Garden Bees program, which introduces second graders to gardening, birds, and butterflies. Karen would gladly share information on volunteering at any of these organizations.

This article aims to provide information about various opportunities that can be found through volunteerism. If you want us to highlight an organization, don't hesitate to contact Elaine Berberich at
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