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Beckerink: Volunteer Work Helps Give Back To Community

Marion Beckerink

Marion Beckerink may be retired, but she’s keeping plenty busy as a volunteer stalwart in the community.

Beckerink began as a volunteer for the United Way of Southern Chautauqua County in January 2022. She recently retired from the Robert H. Jackson Center, and besides the United Way, she also volunteers for the Chautauqua County Humane Society and Rotary Club, among others.

She is also part of a countywide diversity, equity and inclusion coalition and works with a nonprofit that helps refugees relocate.

“I am retired but I stay busy,” said Beckerink, who recently was recognized with several other area volunteers during the United Way’s 2022 Volunteer of the Year ceremony.

“I began as a volunteer in the (Volunteer Income Tax Assistance) Program in January 2022,” Beckerink said. “I thought it was something that not a lot of people wanted to do because they don’t like doing taxes. It’s a free service we provide, and it’s very rewarding so I was happy to do it.”

As a volunteer, Beckerink prepares taxes for free for the community based on income.

“It’s simple taxes, no individual contracts,” she said. “There are so many changes in the tax law that it can be intimidating for people. I’ve met a lot of wonderful people doing this, and it’s very rewarding.”

Beckerink said she first got into volunteering in general as a way to give back to the community.

“There’s a quote by Shirley Chisholm that says, ‘Service is the rent we pay for the privilege of living on this earth,'” Beckerink said. “It’s a way to give back to the community for the gifts that they give you. It makes me feel like I’m a part of something bigger than myself.”

For Beckerink, volunteering in the VITA program with the United Way helps her to feel valuable in the community.

“It feels great to be able to support people, especially since most people tend to run in the opposite direction when it comes to tax prep,” Beckerink said. “This is something that I enjoy doing, and it feels good to be able to offer people some relief of being able to take this off of their plate. The tax process can be intimidating and it’s gratifying to be able to feel like I am improving or contributing to the community in a way that builds it up. It allows me to not just be a lump on a log, but to do something every day that enriches the community.”

Though she said she originally asked not to be nominated, Beckerink said she is honored to be recognized as a Volunteer of the Year.

“United Way is a fantastic organization, and I’m proud to be a part of it,” she said. “I’m humbled as well to be part of the extraordinary people who were nominated.”

Additionally, Beckerink said that especially after the pandemic, people may feel a little bit detached from the community. Volunteering is a way to be able to fix that.

“If folks feel as though they are detached from the community, I would recommend contacting any local nonprofits and seeing if they need volunteers,” she said. “It can help to reengage you and it lets you feel like you are making a difference.”

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