Kings Contrivance, Columbia.Volunteer...


February 06, 1994

PAT KOUKOUMTZIS, 21, Kings Contrivance, Columbia.

Volunteer work: Ms. Koukoumtzis is a sophomore at the Baltimore College of Dental Surgery. She volunteers with the Service Coordination Systems, an advocacy group to help people with developmental disabilities live their lives as they define them. The organization also offers case management for its participants, and volunteers act as companions.

Ms. Koukoumtzis visits Lester Shindledecker, 71, of Owen Brown in Columbia, who is mildly retarded. They bake cookies, go to movies and to dinner, or just spend time together.

Organization's comments: "Pat has been such a positive influence in her companion's life," said Judith Hart, former senior service coordinator with Service Coordination Systems.

"Pat volunteered to be a companion for an elderly gentleman with a developmental disability. In knowing Pat, this man has broadened his social life and integration into the community. His isolation and loneliness is lessened. Pat is performing a real service for both this gentleman and the community."

Volunteer's comments: "Since [dental school] takes up so much of my free time, I didn't think I would be able to volunteer. But the Columbia Volunteer Corps has programs for even the busiest person," said Ms. Koukoumtzis.

"I volunteered for the Milan [Michigan] High School Pompon Squad while completing my undergraduate training. I felt bad I wasn't doing [volunteering] here. I don't have a job, and I don't have much time. But when I go to Lester's house, he is so excited when I walk in. Once you get started, you don't want to stop. It's really enjoyable and fulfilling.

"I've learned a lot from Lester and always look forward to our visits. He's very independent, and I try to help out when I can. For example, he's currently looking for a job. I've tried to gather together applications. If anyone needs a dedicated, dependable, hard worker, please call."

About Ms. Koukoumtzis: She moved to Baltimore in June 1992 from Milan, Mich., then moved to Columbia soon after. She began volunteering with Service Coordination Systems in July 1992.

For volunteer opportunities in Howard County, call The Columbia Volunteer Corps at 715-3163. To make a nomination or receive a nomination form, call Jill L. Kubatko at 715-2813 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Friday. Nominations may be faxed to the office at 715-2816.

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