Volunteering is a family affair

Philanthropist Dorothy Powell has so enjoyed devoting most of her last 50 years to the city of Glendale that if it were up to her, she would love to give even more back to her community, she said.

After first joining the Montecito Park Neighborhood Assn. 49 years ago, Powell has shared her services with numerous other organizations, including the Glendale Symphony Orchestra Assn. since 1980, the Assistance League of Glendale since 1993 and the American Assn. of University Women since 2008, among many others.

In addition to serving those in need, she has also filled in as a photographer on many occasions for special events and banquets with various groups.

On top of that, she has been a caregiver for community locals, friends and family members for years. In her words, giving is a “two-way street,” so she gets as much enjoyment out of her work as anyone else does.

JON HABER: How did you first get involved in volunteering?

DOROTHY POWELL: Well I first got involved through my daughter, Shelley, when I became a Girl Scout leader for her troop. Then, some time later, me and my husband found out the state was going to put a ramp to the 2 Freeway over our house, so that caught our attention. That’s how we got involved in the homeowner group in the Montecito Park Neighborhood Assn.

Q: Why do you think you’ve continued to remain active in volunteering for so many years?

A: I’m like my mom, I guess. She was a very caring person. I’ve been a caregiver for years with friends and family, and to this day I still like to remain active. I just can’t be as active as I used to be.

Q: What would you say is the one event that really catches your attention year after year?

A: With the Assistance League of Glendale, our biggest event is the Festival of Trees. We have 600 to 700 people meet at the Burbank Marriott, and we make a hunk of money through a raffle. That helps us put a lot back into clothes and scholarships for children. It’s the first Sunday in December every year, and the event is so big that we start planning right after New Year’s.

Q: How have you helped contribute to the Glendale Symphony Orchestra Assn.?

A: I’ve volunteered there for over 25 years. My whole family was very musical. My dad played the saxophone, my mom played the flute, and my brother was a choir musician. They were all very talented. I liked music. So I got involved [with the symphony association] as a patroness. We’re women who commit time and money to permit music in schools. I’ve also been a photographer for benefits and parties.

Q: Obviously you enjoy giving back to the community. Why do you feel volunteering is so important in today’s society?

A: Volunteers need to be here to give back to people. You just have to give back to help people that cannot make it on their own. It’s not right to be selfish with your time. For me, the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. My mother was always very caring, so I guess I’m an apple. And if you have any form of religious background like I do, it would be very selfish not to help others in need.

Q: How has the general response from the community been toward your work?

A: Oh, people in this area have been lovely. Glendale is a special place where people really care about what’s going on around them. And most people want to keep that high standard that we have come to expect and love. I know there are some areas where people don’t care about their upkeep, but people here appreciate it. It’s a privilege to work with them.

Q: You’re still actively involved with nearly 10 different volunteer groups. Do you have any future plans of joining another one?

A: Oh gosh, no! You don’t want to spread too thin. I’d rather give one group more quality and time than start somewhere else. I just wish I could give more time.

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