Years of Volunteering gives Years of Life
The day was more than hot, it was sweltering. Houston in July is always hot and humid, but this was one of those days when stepping outside felt like walking straight into an oven.
I was traveling north on I-45 in my old Plymouth with the AC cranked up to maximum. My clothes were sticking to me and little rivulets of sweat ran down my spine and between my legs. I pushed the hair out of my eyes and patted down the frizzy ends sticking out atop my head. I was a mess and getting more aggravated as I tried to keep up with the caravan of pickup trucks ahead of me. Each truck carried precious cargo—fresh shrimp. As I watched the oversized coolers bounce around in the back of the truck ahead of me, I was sure we had lost our minds.
- Excerpt from The Women of The Rose
Looking back to that first Shrimp Boil in 1989, I am convinced that it is a miracle that our event survived beyond that first effort.
After loading up those coolers full of fresh shrimp from Kemah, we headed over to the SPJST Grand Lodge in Pasadena. Then we spent hours de-heading them, all 600 pounds of shrimp. Next came shucking hundreds of pounds of corn and scrubbing an equal number of boiling potatoes. All that happened on Saturday. Then bright and early Sunday morning we finished setting up, the pots were boiling and by noon were ready for the crowd. By 4 o’clock the last meal had been served and we started tearing down and cleaned up. We were wiped out by the time we left around 8 p.m.
Back in 1989, The Rose had a total of 5 employees including me. Volunteers were critical to the success of our first Shrimp Boil and to every event since! For 30 years they’ve shown up and made the Shrimp Boil one of the longest-running fundraising events in our community.
Recently during a Volunteer Committee Meeting and I was awestruck by the number of years this group has committed to the Shrimp Boil. Over 150 years of volunteer service was sitting around the table, making plans for this year!
Helen Perry was there from the beginning. Last year she topped all records by donating 161 loaves of her homemade sweet breads. Today four generations of her family show up that day to help do whatever is needed. She recruited her good friend, Mary Keen, who has been around a while and has been crucial in years past in getting all of the 80-90 auction items packaged before the event.
Judy Pareya and daughter Jennifer have been our “mainstays” for at nearly twenty years. Besides being on the committee, they have brought more than their fair share of raffle items, filled the room with their friends and ‘manned’ different stations.
Another long-timer, Mark Meeker, insisted we abandon de-heading (thank goodness) and ‘modernized’ our process. He and his 10 man cooking team have fed 800 to 900 people for at least 16 years. His folks stay around, like Charlie James who has been Mark’s right-hand man for 11 years.
Shirley Middleton donated all the paper plates and plastic ware at the first event and today she’s the ticket taker on the food line, with daughter Stephanie helping and grandson, Justin Kichline, donating one of his priceless handmade guitars for the auction.
In 1989, Tom Watson, board member, and Regional President and Chief Lending Officer of Texas Citizens Bank was the key person behind the serving line. He brought his folks out to help then as he continues to do today.
One of our ‘newer’ recruits, Sharon Cho manages the dessert table bringing her prize-winning pineapple upside-down cake that sells for $50 or more. Even though Sharon has been doing this for a decade, she’s still a newbie.
Over 100 volunteers are needed on the day of the Shrimp Boil. Most have volunteered for years.
Those years have meant raising a lot of money and caring for a lot of women. The Shrimp Boil has grown from raising $10,000 that first year and to $100,000 or more over the past decade.
Nothing was ever as exciting as that first year when we had enough funding to keep our doors open and serve 2,845 women of which 309 were uninsured. Today, over 40,000 women rely on The Rose for their breast health and 7,000 are uninsured.
For the uninsured, The Rose means their survival.
All those years of volunteer service have given years of life to thousands of women.
Few volunteers have left such a legacy.