At an organization so blessed with devoted volunteers, it’s no easy task to choose just one to honor as Volunteer of the Year.
But as we prepared for this year’s Celebration Dinner, it was time to choose one person – a person who for many years, has been doing so much more than expected to make Human Support Services the very best it can be.
Opal Lang is our 2017 Volunteer of the Year!
As we began talking to others in our HSS family about Opal, we heard countless stories about her selfless dedication – her tireless work to make our clients and staff happier and healthier.
In addition to the daily responsibilities of her job, she helps organize all our client vacation fundraisers, ensuring that our clients get to take the very best vacations possible.
In fact, every time Human Support Services hosts a fundraiser or community event of any kind, she is there.
Just to name a few, Opal has worked behind the counter at a funnel cake stand, a root beer float stand and a nacho cheese stand at events like the Waterloo Homecoming.
When we host our Human Support Services Trivia Night, Opal is the person behind the scenes, picking up donations, making phone calls, putting the baskets together, and manning the raffle tables.
Last year, we held a barbecue lunch fundraiser and she was right there on the frontlines, taking orders, boxing lunches and making phone calls.
When our Day Training staff held a craft stand fundraiser, Opal spent countless hours making crafts and gathering supplies that were one sale, looking for just the right materials that would suit the crafts that our client were making.
She even donated her Thrivent Action Team dollars to get seed money for the project, and then worked at the craft stand at SparkleFest in Columbia.
When HSS has a float in a local parade like the GLOW Lighted holiday parade at Thanksgiving, Opal is the one driving staff involvement, coming up with the creative ideas and organizing meetings.
She makes the costumes for our clients and assists clients so they can participate, even when that means pushing a wheelchair for those who may not be able to walk.
For several years, Human Support Services has had a winning float in the Waterloo Homecoming parade. This is in large part thanks to Opal!
She spends countless hours helping to come up with ideas for the yearly float, then helps builds those floats, and makes many of the costumes.
Over the years, Opal has been a Cabbage Patch doll, a baseball catcher, a 1950s dancer in a poodle skirt, Glenda the Good Witch, Betsy Ross, a fairy godmother and Fred Flintstone.
What makes her even more amazing is that her altruism doesn’t stop at the doors of HSS.
She is involved with many other volunteer activities, including Monroe County Relay for Life and Backstoppers.
“I cannot think of a more deserving person with a more generous heart and giving spirit. She is so dedicated to every client that we serve at HSS. And she goes above and beyond for her co-workers as well,” said Anne King, HSS executive director. “All of us at Human Support Services want Opal to know just how much her help means. She works so hard at the events and is always cheerful and helpful. She always has a smile and a kind and encouraging word for others. She is a blessing to the agency and to the clients we serve!”