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Tour kicks off National Volunteer Week

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Keynote speaker Dave Urso talks to the crowd about the importance of volunteering during the Progressive Volunteer Tour event hosted by the Volunteer Action Center at the Old Town Mall in Winchester on Saturday. Andrew Thayer/Daily

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A crowd claps during one of the speeches given during the Progressive Volunteer Tour event hosted by the Volunteer Action Center at the Old Town Pedestrian Mall in Winchester on Saturday. Andrew Thayer/Daily

By M.K. Luther - mkluther@nvdaily.com

WINCHESTER -- When David Urso was looking for a way to make a difference in his own life, he unwittingly discovered how much of a difference he could make in the lives of others.

"My life had fallen into a rut, doing the same routine day after day, going through the motions," Urso said. "I felt like there was no energy, so I said I have to change something up. I have to do something."

Urso, director of development at Lord Fairfax Community College, helped usher in National Volunteer Week at the first Progressive Volunteer Tour in Winchester on Saturday.

Urso said he eventually found the inspiration and motivation he was looking for by helping others and volunteering within the community.

"Suddenly, I found [volunteering] changed the experiences I was having, changed the way I went about my life," Urso said. "And that is the same gift we all have the opportunity to give ourselves."

As the head of a nonprofit department, Urso sees the effects of financial donations every day. But the gift of time can be more valuable because of the immediate and lasting effects it has on all involved, he said.

"I really think that is the secret to the human spirit, when you know that what you are doing is having an impact," Urso said.

The volunteer tour was sponsored by the Volunteer Action Center at Our Health, a nonprofit agency connected with Valley Health, and AARP.

Twenty of the Volunteer Action Center's 30 partner agencies and groups participated in the tour, said coordinator Stacey Iden. Organizations such as Blue Ridge Hospice, the Free Medical Clinic and the Adult Care Center opened their doors on Saturday so the public could learn each group's mission and values.

At least 25 people registered for the tour and event coordinators also participated in the open house tour.

Volunteer Missy Jackson, who coordinated with the center to give 50 hours of service by her 50th birthday, also was honored for reaching her goal at 9:45 a.m. Saturday as the tour started.

Various events are planned to mark National Volunteer Week, including a community bedtime story at Handley Library auditorium today and a viewing of the film "Pay it Forward" at Alamo Drafthouse in Winchester, Iden said.

John Capehart, Our Health board chairman, said the open-house tour could introduce the community's seasoned volunteers to different organizations in need of their donated time and efforts.

"The one thing about Winchester and Frederick is that it is a community of volunteers," Capehart said.

The tour also helped to direct potential new volunteers to the area's nonprofit and service organization.

Susan Lee and her 19-year-old son, Devin, attended the tour to learn firsthand about volunteering. Devin, a George Mason University freshman, is considering taking part in international volunteer experience and came home for the weekend to attend the tour, Lee said.

"This would be a good experience to start at home in the local community to prepare for bigger opportunities in the future," she said. "This is such a great opportunity to have 20 places open all at once rather than having to call each one and set up a visit."

volunteer initiative

• For more information on
National Volunteer Week, visit

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