Full-time volunteer named 'Most Beautiful'

December 11, 1996|By Erin Texeira | Erin Texeira,SUN STAFF

Dona Oldfield of Hickory Ridge village in west Columbia puts in 30-plus hours a week dashing between jobs: Among other things, she counsels new mothers on breast-feeding, heads a Girl Scout troop, tutors students and runs a youth choir.

She doesn't get paid for any of it.

Last month, after nearly a decade as a full-time volunteer, Oldfield was named Howard County volunteer of the year and became one of Gov. Parris N. Glendening's "Most Beautiful People."

"She is really a full-time businesswoman who works for nothing," said Kathleen Sloan, who headed the committee in Howard County that selected Oldfield.

The soft-spoken woman was chosen from among at least 80 nominees by a committee of county business leaders, Sloan said.

Each year, the 10-year-old "Most Beautiful" program names one exemplary volunteer from each county and Baltimore. At St. John's College in Annapolis Nov. 6, Governor Glendening named Oldfield and 23 other winners.

"I was completely shocked when they called my name," said Oldfield, who cried when her name was announced. "It was so nice, so gratifying."

For nearly nine years, Oldfield has spent much of her time with Howard County's La Leche League, a non-profit organization that gives breast-feeding advice to new mothers.

Oldfield -- nominated by at least seven people rather than the customary one or two -- stood out among the nominees, Sloan said, because she has worked for so many years on a wide range of volunteer jobs.

"She wasn't just working with La Leche," Sloan said. "She is very much involved in several different aspects of her community. As they say, she goes the extra mile."

In their letters nominating Oldfield for the award, friends and co-workers wrote that Oldfield brings meals to new mothers who are home-bound, personally cares for their babies and gives advice to women by phone at all hours of the day and night. Once, she drove through a snowstorm to help a woman who was having trouble breast-feeding, Sloan said.

Kim Snyder, who works at La Leche with Oldfield and nominated her for the award, said, "She would really give you the shirt off her back if you needed it. But, what's more, she is extremely knowledgeable about her field. She is intelligent enough to be a doctor."

Oldfield also tutors at Swansfield Elementary, where her daughter attends school, has volunteered to teach women about breast-feeding at the county Health Department and runs the youth choir and teaches bible study at Christ Episcopal Church on Oakland Mills Road in Owen Brown village.

"I do the most gratifying work there is," she said.

Pub Date: 12/11/96

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