Did you hear the news? April is #NationalVolunteerMonth! We will be featuring several stories about some of our AMAZING Special Olympics New Jersey volunteers.
This week’s story is about Morgan Hulteen, a Special Olympics New Jersey Gymnastics athlete. Besides practicing her gymnastics skills, she also volunteers her time in numerous ways.
Morgan loves helping people and making them happy. She says her dad always tells her that she is his sunshine. “When the sun shines, people are happy, so I want to be their sunshine too,” Morgan says.
In High School, Morgan would volunteer in the cafeteria for special events and also helped at Marshall’s in the storeroom, the Township Tax Office and the local hospital. She said her favorite place to volunteer was at the hospital, where she was able to volunteer 20 hours per week. She first started out helping in the Mail Room, sorting the mail, and then eventually began delivering to different departments.
“I always delivered the mail with a smile and eventually, people began asking for me,” she said.
Morgan then started to volunteer at the Concierge’s desk, where she would deliver flowers, cards, and newspapers to the patients. Because she got to go everywhere in the hospital, the nurses and doctors began to know her name and told the Volunteer Director that she was Sunshine to all of them. When the pandemic began, Morgan’s volunteer program shut down. This is when Morgan and her family heard about Meals on Wheels for the seniors in their township.
Morgan has been volunteering with Meals on Wheels for about a year. Her family drives her to the Senior Center where they give her a list of the seniors and two or three large containers with hot or cold meals, drinks, and snacks.
Morgan puts the addresses in her GPS and when she arrives, she goes to the trunk and handpicks the food, places it in a bag, and takes it to the front door. She steps back six feet, and when they open the door, gives them a big smile, under her mask, of course, and tells them they look good, wishes them a good day, and asks how they were doing and feeling.
Morgan always lets the Senior Center Director know if a client Is not feeling well. She has also called the Senior Center right away when a client had fallen or was in a lot of pain. A couple of times, she noticed that the client’s walkway was very icy and had a lot of snow, so she notified the Senior Center that it was dangerous, in case the clients had to leave their residence. On Christmas and Valentine’s Day, Morgan made cards for everyone. She says these clients are her friends now and even when she is able to volunteer at the hospital again, she will still deliver meals to her friends.
Morgan also volunteers with the Salvation Army through her church. She helps in her sister’s office at the Salvation Army headquarters doing office work like shredding paper and sorting things. Around Christmas time, she helped in Asbury Park putting together Christmas gift bags for hundreds of families. She also sits at the Red Kettles ringing the bell and wishing the by-passers a Merry Christmas!
When Morgan was asked what she has learned through volunteering, she said that she has found that everyone needs love and kind words, and when she shares it, it’s reciprocated. She loves taking care of her new friends and doesn’t know what she would do if she did not have something like this to do every day.
“It is a part of my day, what I do, and it is important. I love the seniors and I look out for them,” she said.
Once things get back to “normal,” Morgan wants to go back to the hospital and volunteer. Before COVID-19, she was about to learn how to help with pet therapy for patients. She also wants to get back to volunteering in the mailroom, delivering mail to all of her friends in the departments, and volunteering in the administrative offices.
Morgan misses doing special projects such as stuffing envelopes and making up patient bags, delivering flowers and gifts to the patients, talking to them, and seeing the doctors and nurses. She will still volunteer with Meals on Wheels because she loves the seniors and prays for them, and will also continue with the Salvation Army when they need extra help. Great job Morgan, way to give back to the community!
Get Involved! The heart of our organization is our athletes, and we would not exist today without the individuals and organizations who help support them throughout the year. Click here to learn more.