National Volunteer of the Year goes to
Granting wishes. Touching Lives. That is the slogan of the Making Memories Breast Cancer Foundation, and that is what Dorothy Joralemon of Summerville, SC, loves to do. It is also why she is the recipient of the organization's 2006 National Volunteer of the Year Award. Dorothy is 88 years young and exemplifies the spirit of volunteerism. In just three years, she has traveled thousands of miles to cities across the country -- not to work for wages, but to volunteer for the “Brides Against Breast Cancer” Nationwide Tour of Gowns. She is inspired to be a part of an organization that grants dying wishes to terminal breast cancer patients by the sale of donated wedding gowns.
From Charleston, SC to Las Vegas, NV to Tampa, FL to Cleveland, OH to Memphis, TN and all points in between, she lights up the room when she walks in with her lighthearted smile and more energy in her step than many half her age. In 2005, she tirelessly volunteered over 2,000 hours – more than many women work in full-time paid employment. A two - time breast cancer survivor herself, Dorothy recognizes what it means to help others less fortunate than she has been. She knows that each wedding gown sold means someone's wish is well on its way to being granted.
Joralemon is a ray of sunshine in the dressing room, chatting with future brides and telling them how lovely they look as they try on dresses seeking that perfect "one." She takes it personally and is thrilled when a bride she is helping chooses the gown of her dreams. As Dorothy proudly walks her out to the cashier's table to pay for her selection, she explains what this purchase will mean to a family dealing with the devastating effects of a terminal illness. As a final touch for her bride, Joralemon carefully places a pink embroidered ribbon into the bodice of the gown so that on her "dream day," as she puts on her lovely dress, she will be reminded that she was part of making someone else's dream come true.
Dorothy is accompanied on her travels by her daughter, Barbara Raskin, the Eastern Region Director of the Making Memories Foundation. Happiest when she is a busy bee, Joralemon also volunteers every week at the Santee Outlet Mall in Santee, SC the Eastern region's Making Memories warehouse. It is also the organization's only storefront. Kindly referred to as" Miss Spotteria," (pronounced like cafeteria) Dorothy is the" queen of clean ing" – wedding gowns , that is. Many donated dresses arrive in need of some tender loving care before they can be sold. Dorothy is just the one to do it. That is a big job and a huge part of the operation so the gowns can be turned into a terminal breast cancer patient's last wish. Granting wishes. Touching Lives. That's what Dorothy Joralemon loves to be part of and how she spends her time these days.