VISD honors 400 volunteers
April 12, 2012 at 6 p.m.
Updated April 11, 2012 at 11:12 p.m.
Though the faces may have changed over the past 30 years, the spirit to serve has not.
That's how long the Victoria school district has been honoring the people who dedicate their time to work in VISD schools.
During Thursday's luncheon at the Victoria Community Center, the district honored about 400 volunteers with an afternoon of barbecue, door prizes and praise.
"You are a representative group of the volunteers who give so much of their time, talents and efforts to our schools and, most importantly, to our students," Diane Boyett, district communications director, told the crowd. "Victoria is blessed that we are a community that cares for our kids."
Boyett said if the district had to count how many people have a hand in Victoria schools, the number would likely surge to 8,000, when taking into account booster clubs and businesses that sponsor events, for example.
Most notably at this year's event, Boyett said, were the number of men in the audience. With the growing popularity of the Watch D.O.G.S. program, which brings dads or father figures into schools, men have become a more common sight among the traditional mother volunteers.
"Over the years, we see more and more men come into the group, and we have to say thank you," Boyett said.
Heather Kallus, who volunteers at her son's school, William Wood Elementary, said she came from a home in which her mother was constantly helping out in her classroom.
"If there was an event, a function, a fundraiser, a school party, class party, my mom was there. I couldn't imagine my children's school years without me volunteering or being a part of all that," said Kallus, whose son is in second grade.
But, like the trend suggests, the men in Kallus' life also see the importance of volunteering in their rural school. Her husband, Russell, and her dad, John Spears, also spend time at William Wood, serving in whatever capacity needed - from moving heavy equipment to simply having lunch with some kids.
"The role that a dad or a father figure can play in the child's life is immeasurable," Kallus said. "If they can't have a father figure at home, it's amazing they would have that opportunity at least at school to have that dad ... push them on the swings, read a book, help them with the math or whatever."
Volunteering also allows parents to know what's actually going on in the school environment, Kallus said.
But her reasons for volunteering are a little more genuine.
"It's just a wonderful way to use your God-given gift of time," she said.