S.H.E.: Penny Dora dedicates times to helping others

Penny Dora takes the act of volunteering to an entirely different level. The Greenville resident has been involved with committees and helping others since her childhood.

Dora lived in Florida until her middle school years when she moved to Sheridan with her family. In 1984 she started working for what was then United Memorial Hospital in Greenville and soon thereafter became involved in several committees including the Naomi Lewis Guild.

It was during her tenure with the hospital that she also served as a study buddy at Baldwin Heights Elementary School.

The spirit of giving was sparked at a young age for Dora.

Penny Dora enjoying one of her many passions running the Jacksonville, Fla., Winter Beach Run on Feb. 14, 2010. (Courtesy Photo)

“When you are the oldest child in a large family, you learn at an early age how to manage a lot of things at one time,” Dora said. “As the oldest, you are expected to help the family function, you have to help with laundry, dishes, child care and so many other things. You realize very quickly that it isn’t all about you.”

Since the first days of getting involved in the community, Dora has been a part of numerous volunteer groups.

In 1999, Dora formed the Greenville division of Students Taking a Renewed Interest in the Value of Education while serving with the Greenville Rotary Club. The goal was to assist juniors and seniors at risk of not graduating high school. Dora served as president in 2004 and 2005 and was twice awarded Rotarian of the Year. During her time with the Rotary, she also started the senior boys luncheon. It was during that time Dora experienced one of the more rewarding moments of her volunteer work.

“I worked with a student in the STRIVE program who, in his senior year, received an award for the most improved G.P.A.,” Dora remarked. “That was pretty inspiring to see how much he changed.”

In addition to serving as a Rotarian and on several committees through her work at the hospital, Dora also served as treasurer with We Care for Kids Council, which is a child-abuse prevention committee. Part of Dora’s involvement with We Care for Kids included securing the “Protect Yourself” program taught to all first- and third-grade students in Montcalm County.

She is also very passionate about her work with the Montcalm County Suicide Prevention Council and subsequently formed Yellow Ribbon Clubs in both the middle and high schools. All Montcalm County school districts have a Yellow Ribbon Club with a mission to raise awareness and prevent teen suicide. Dora also assumed the role of race director for the Yellow Jacket Challenge in 2011 when founder, Caroline Cook, moved to Grand Rapids.

Looking through Dora’s resume of work and volunteerism, a common theme rises to the surface. Her passion for the betterment of young people through education and community involvement is at the heart of her drive.

“We should all have an opportunity to learn and become better people,” Dora said. “Any cause that helps that, I’m in favor of.”

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