Volunteer of the Week: Tom Osburn believes helping others changes lives

Published 10:43 am Thursday, March 28, 2024

Our Volunteer of the Week this week is Tom Osburn. Tom is married to Donna Osburn. They have two adult children and one grandchild. Tom moved to Vicksburg in 1980 and worked at International Paper Company for 38 years until he retired in 2018.

How did your volunteering for Kiwanis of Vicksburg begin?

I was asked by a college roommate to join Circle K International, (a Kiwanis-sponsored Service Leadership Program). After that experience, I knew I wanted to be a member of Kiwanis.

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How long have you been volunteering with Kiwanis of Vicksburg?

I was a member of Circle K for 3 years and I have been a member of Kiwanis for 31 years.

What is your favorite memory while volunteering for Kiwanis of Vicksburg?

There are so many great experiences and memories. Here are a few: Our club has always helped with the Special Olympics track-and-field events. Each year it is a treat to watch the participants give their all and be awarded their ribbons. For many years we delivered Meals on Wheels on Thanksgiving Day. We would cook extra food so we could share our Thanksgiving meal with our Meals on Wheels families. I say “we” because this was a family project. Donna and the boys always went with me to deliver the meals. We had one lady that we delivered to for years until she passed away. We had others that would be so excited to see us that we would have to stay and listen to their stories as we were probably the only people they saw on Thanksgiving. One day, after we had read books to a school classroom, I was in the grocery store and ran into a young boy and his mother. The boy broke into a huge grin, grabbed his mother and pointed excitedly at me while telling his mother, “That man read to me at school today.” While I certainly did not recognize him, I had made a difference in his life that day.

What would you tell someone who is thinking about volunteering?

Just do it! It takes time, but we all have the same amount of time every day. You just have to decide that you want to spend some of that time helping others.

What are some of your tasks while volunteering at Kiwanis of Vicksburg?

Our Kiwanis Club has many projects so the tasks can be quite different. For Special Olympics we run the running events – that means we line the runners up, start the race and time the participants. Our largest project is our Annual Kiwanis Chili Feast. All of the club members have some involvement as this project raises almost all the funds the club uses for scholarships and service each year. I handle ordering the supplies and coordinating the cooking and serving. As the club secretary/treasurer, I also track our service hours and the project finances.

What have you learned from volunteering?

Everyone has different levels of involvement that they can and want to do. It is important to recognize that you need to conduct different projects so that everyone can find something that they want to be a part of. We always involve our children, which is very important so that they grow up learning to give back.

How can someone else who might be interested in volunteering with Kiwanis of Vicksburg get involved?

They can find out more about Kiwanis of Vicksburg on their website, www.vicksburgkiwanis.org, or on our Facebook page, https://www.facebook.com/VicksburgMSKiwanis. If they want more information, they can email us at vicksburgkiwanis@gmail.com. Or they give me a call at (601) 301-2002.