The Joys of Volunteering: A Q&A With Amy Donato, Founder of the Boomer Loomers
In 2014, Amy Donato started a volunteer club with her friends called the Boomer Loomers. It began as an accident: while looking for a YouTube tutorial on crocheting, she happened upon a video of a woman looming. Soon, she began looming, and before she knew it, her entire neighborhood was creating hats for the needy.
According to Donato, The Boomer Loomers, a group of 170+ strong, has made hundreds of articles of clothing for children, pets, veterans, cancer patients – pretty much anyone who needs some garb. Although, as she told us, she “never did find that crochet stitch,” on YouTube, she has managed to turn some basic knowhow into a robust volunteering group. We wanted to learn more about what makes her tick, so she sat down with us for a brief interview.
The conversation has been lightly edited and condensed for clarity.
Q: What did you want to get out of volunteering when you started the Boomer Loomers?
A: Nothing. Just the feeling of doing something good. You don’t want anything in return. You want to know that someone is benefitting from something you did for them, and you don’t expect any thanks. That’s what I wanted to feel.
Q: What was your background in volunteer work before starting the Boomer Loomers?
A: I’ve volunteered all my adult life. I’ve worked with children and animals. I worked at a “no kill” shelter until it became a kill shelter. I worked with a group that rescued dogs until it lost its funding. I did volunteer work at a clinic in Staten Island, where I worked with babies. Many of them were crack babies, and I would just hold them and cuddle them and make them feel like somebody is there.
Q: What kind of connections have you made volunteering with the Boomer Loomers?
A: When you sit down to work with these people, you find out that they’re all very giving people. They have backgrounds of volunteer work. They love to do it. They can’t wait to bring in more hats. They’re like my family now. These women are very caring and loving and giving. And they are my friends. I couldn’t have a nicer bunch of people.
Q: What would you say to someone who’s considering volunteering for the first time?
A: You have to have more of a commitment of the mind. If it’s something that I want to do, why do I want to do it? Am I helping somebody? Do I really want to spend a lot of time doing this with someone else?…We never get to meet these people. And knowing that, it’s ok. It’s just the fact that you’re helping that person, whoever it may be. That’s what I’m getting out of it.
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