Volunteer Spirit: Bowker’s help leads to increase in Salvation Army donations

Bill Bowker, left, is the chair of the Salvation Army’s Advisory Board. He’s pictured with Salvation Army Major Curt Sayre. (Photo by Phil Case)

According to Bill Bowker, volunteering has several levels of involvement, and the more involved one is, the more one gets from the experience.

Bowker, who chairs the Salvation Army’s Advisory Board, has been volunteering with the organization for several years, but this is his first year to lead the board.

“Some people get on a board and they’re pretty much in name only, while others may come to some of the meetings and participate a little,” he said. “The key is to really get involved.”

During this past Christmas season, Bowker “upped his game” and was instrumental in increasing the number of bellringers at the Salvation Army’s kettles, which resulted in almost $5,000 more being collected in 2018 than in 2017. The kettles at Christmas are the major fundraiser for the Salvation Army.

This, according to Salvation Army Maj. Curt Sayre, came with 20 fewer days to ring, and he credits Bowker with much of that success through his recruitment of more volunteers.

“We had the increase (in collections) because Bill worked it,” said Sayre who, with his wife, Natalie, leads the local Salvation Army. “By increasing the number of local volunteers, we were able to hire fewer paid ringers, thus providing us even more money to help others.”

Bowker says the increased number of volunteers is a result of persistence.

“I just kept asking individuals, clubs, businesses, churches, groups — everyone I could think of — to help and many did,” Bowker said, “My goal was to try to involve as much of the community as possible.”

He also believes leading by example is vital, adding you can’t expect people to do something you aren’t willing to do yourself.

There are 25 members of the Advisory Board, and currently the roster is three short. Bowker says getting on the board is like being on the Supreme Court: “You can stay for life unless you want to get off!”

He said very good records have been kept, so it will be easy to contact those who participated again when bellringing time rolls around this Christmas. And by involving more people in 2018, it opens the pool to even more volunteers.

Bowker, who’s 75, is retired from state government, where he worked in either energy and utility regulation. He and his wife, Linda, a retired English teacher at first Franklin County High School and then Western Hills High School, have been in Frankfort since 1976.

Sayre offers even more high praise for Bowker’s work.

“I’ve been involved with the Salvation Army for 28 years,” he said, “and Bill is the best board chairman I’ve ever had.”

To apply to fill one of those three vacancies on the board or volunteer for other work at the Salvation Army, call Bowker at 502-229-6369 or Sayre at 502-909-4518.

Know someone whose volunteerism merits public recognition? Email us at volunteers@state-journal.com.

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