For Milford resident Lucy Mehl, volunteerism is just a part of life.
So when she was recently nominated as one of Delaware’s Outstanding Volunteers, she was surprised and honored to be recognized for doing work she considers a way of life.
Mehl is one of 25 individuals, groups and corporate groups who will be honored on Tuesday, Oct. 22 at the 2013 Governor’s Outstanding Volunteer Awards at Dover Downs.
Mehl’s extensive involvement in community service throughout Sussex County inspired friend Barbara Lister to work diligently to make sure Mehl would win the award.
“She does so much, I couldn’t even guestimate the total hours a week she devotes,” Lister said. “I was surprised, but I knew she deserved it. With everything she does, how could they not choose Lucy?”
Currently Mehl serves the Milford community through work with Prime Hook Wildlife Refuge, Delaware Hospice, Milford Senior Center, Milford Garden Club, the Whirl-A-Way Square dancers of Georgetown, Milford Lions Club, Seaside Jewish Community, Presbyterian Church, Food Bank of Delaware, Milford’s Veterans of Foreign Wars, Circle of Light Ministries and as a WBOC Weather Watcher.
“She’s involved in everything,” Lister said. “If she hears that anyone needs anything, she’s there. She’s determined to do anything she can for anyone.”
Her extensive involvement in the community stems not only from her need for little sleep and varying interests, but also her upbringing in Binghamton, N.Y., where her parents taught her that volunteerism was a part of life.
“Volunteering is just in our family line,” Mehl said.
When her parents arrived in the United States in 1939, fleeing Nazi rule in Vienna, Austria, with only the clothes on their backs and only a few dollars in their pocket, they did anything they could to give back to their neighbors for helping them establish a new life.
It wasn’t something the family talked about growing up. It was just something they did.
“It wasn’t talked about, it was just a part of life.” Mehl said. “They were so appreciative of America for giving them a start and a safe place for them and their family, so they just wanted to give back.”
That desire was passed on to Mehl and her twin brother Leonard, who spent time volunteering at hospitals and as “The Red Feather Twins,” especially focused on cheering up the elderly.
Mehl also found at an early age that she wanted to help where help was needed most, and when she didn’t even know what geriatrics meant at the age of 12, she knew she wanted to volunteer there just because no one else would do it.
Page 2 of 2 - “Everybody does the happy things, nobody tackles the harder things,” Mehl said. “Volunteers are needed everywhere.”
After spending most of her life helping others, Mehl doesn’t plan on stopping any time soon.
“I can’t sit still. I can’t play cards. I like to move around,” Mehl said as she served scones and coffee for Lister and their friend Rhoda Friedman.
“I just turned 70 and I wake up every day ready to do everything. I couldn’t sit around watching TV all day, but I keep saying I will when I get old,” she laughed. “I love everything. I’m not great at everything, but I love doing it.”