Feature by Lily Hinz
“If an introvert like me can volunteer, anybody can.”
This is the message Cynthia Gipson wants to share with anyone who might be interested in volunteering in the Springfield Historic District, or elsewhere. For Cynthia, the source of inspiration was a next door neighbor who was already active in the community. She admired his commitment to community service and wanted to emulate it. When the opportunity arose, she took it.
“One day I gave him my Facebook info and he ‘friended’ me. He started inviting me to service events and adding me to Springfield groups,” Cynthia explained. Because of this encouragement, Cynthia worked up the courage to start attending organized volunteer events. “Each time I volunteer, I feel such joy. It really is remarkable.”
Cynthia has since volunteered at neighborhood clean ups, the annual Tour of Homes (the 2018 edition is May 19th & 20th!), and advocated for policy changes at City Council meetings. But her favorite volunteer event was the Neighbors Helping Neighbors project, where SPAR coordinated facade and landscaping improvements to a deserving family's home. “I think the [facade] painting was my favorite. I've never done exterior painting so it took me out of my comfort zone. It was a challenge but was very rewarding. I've driven past the house a few times and always feel a sense of accomplishment when I see it."
The event that took Cynthia most out of her comfort zone, however, was her first City Council meeting. Zoning and other topics surrounding the opening of craft breweries in Springfield were on the agenda, and she felt compelled express her opinion on the record. As an Atlanta native, Cynthia appreciates the importance of entertainment and nightlife in a community, and has a strong desire to spend her money at businesses in her own neighborhood. The positive impact of new local breweries was, as she describes, “a no-brainer.”
“As soon as I got off from work I hurried downtown to that City Council meeting to make sure my voice was heard,” she said. “I have to admit… I was a bit scared to stand in front of a group of people and speak my mind but once I stood up, all of my toast-master training kicked in and I just went for it!”
Thank you to Cynthia and our community members who dedicate their time to improving our neighborhood and building community. You make the Springfield Historic District a great place to call home!
For more information about volunteer opportunities, contact SPAR at [email protected] or (904) 353-7727.