Celebrating Longtime Volunteers in Plano

Longtime Volunteers in Plano

For many, the holidays are a time to reflect on blessings and bestow some personal good fortune on those in need through the act of volunteering. But for some exceptional North Texans, serving others is a way of life all year long. 

The following men and women are longtime servants in our community, some volunteering for their chosen cause more than two decades. When an extra hand is needed, local nonprofit organizations say these are the residents that are always there to give time, talents, skills and a whole lot of heart.

Arlene Englert
Arlene Englert

Arlene Englert

As a retired school librarian, Arlene has been volunteering with Friends of the Plano Library for the past 15 years. She is currently a Super Sorter who helps sort and store all the donations for the annual book sale. Arlene enjoys sharing her talents, particularly organizing. 

Why do you volunteer?

If we want Plano to continue to offer the lifestyle we enjoy, we need to do our part to help the organizations that make our city so worthwhile. Not everything functions on money; a lot depends on people sharing their time and specialties.

Why would you encourage others to volunteer?

Volunteering gives you a sense of purpose. Especially if you are retired and have the time, you will find that volunteering adds a new dimension to your life.

Cindy Zaby
Cindy Zaby (at right)

Cindy Zaby

Cindy began volunteering with Junior League of Collin County (JLCC) in 2002. She has served on the board of directors four times; organized its largest fundraiser,  ‘Neath the Wreath Holiday Gift Market; and currently serves as the Sustaining Leadership Co-Chair.

Why do you volunteer?

Being a member of JLCC provides the perfect avenue to learn about the needs in our community and the opportunities to directly impact those needs.

What have you learned from volunteering?

Being a member of JLCC has not only helped expand my personal and professional network, but it has taught me skills that I’ve been able to take forward in leadership roles with other organizations.

Courtney Pero
Plano Police Officer Courtney Pero

Courtney Pero

Plano Police Officer Courtney Pero began volunteering with Christmas Cops 24 years ago. He is currently vice president and has served as past committee member and board member.

Why do you volunteer with Christmas Cops?

Police officers often come into contact with persons when things are not going well in their lives. This organization allows officers to make a positive difference in the lives of the families they contact with, and it increases the positive relationship between our community and the police department.

What do you enjoy about volunteering? 

I enjoy seeing the smiles on the kids’ faces when they receive items they would not have received otherwise.

Gail Hughes
Gail Hughes

Gail Hughes

Gail has been volunteering with My Friend’s House, a homeless shelter for children in Plano, for almost a decade. After working as a preschool teacher for 25 years, she continues to care for children by doing arts and crafts with kids at My Friend’s House every Tuesday.

Why do you volunteer at My Friend’s House? 

When the little kids come into the facility at midnight, they are scared to death. But in two days, they feel so loved and cared for and they know they are safe. Being a consistent face for these kids helps give them hope for what is next in their lives.

What do you enjoy about volunteering? 

I love children and working with kids is part of my wildest dreams. When you give, you get twice as much in return.

Hope Owen
Hope Owen

Hope Owen

Hope has been volunteering at the Hope’s Door Resale Store since 2014. After items donated are resold, proceeds benefit victims of domestic abuse.

What is your role at Hope’s Door?

I sort and price the items that are donated to the store and serve as cashier. I really feel like a part of the team. 

Why did you start volunteering at the store?

I had recently retired and personally knew someone who was domestically abused, so I thought this would be a good opportunity for me to be involved.

Joan Smith (at right)
Joan Smith (at far right)

Joan Smith

In 2011 Joan began volunteering for Hendrick Scholarship Foundation (HSF). She has served on the board of directors for six years. HSF’s mission is to provide Plano ISD graduates who have overcome adversity with scholarships for higher education.

What do you enjoy about volunteering with HSF?

The opportunity to give back to kids who deserve to go to college despite life’s challenges motivates me. It is important to show these kids a way out of their situation by equipping them with tools to work toward a better life.

Why would you encourage someone to volunteer?

It will make a difference to those less fortunate and help you become less absorbed in your own life.

Tamra Sadafsaz (at left)
Tamra Sadafsaz (at left)

Tamra Sadafsaz

For the past 17 years Tamra has been volunteering with Junior League of Collin County. This group of women is committed to promoting volunteerism, developing the potential of women and improving the community.

What do you enjoy about volunteering?

I enjoy volunteering alongside women that have the same ambition and determination and want to support the community by volunteering our time.

What have you gained from volunteering?

When you take time out of your busy day to volunteer in your community, it gives you a sense of pride. Living in Plano and volunteering in Collin County is something I love.

The Thursday Group
“The Thursday Group”

“The Thursday Group”

The 14 people in “The Thursday Group” started volunteering at Minnie’s Food Pantry almost a decade ago. Regulars include Ann McCarthy, Bobbi Clarkson, Darla Koelewyn, Jackie Myers, Jeni Cortwright, Jennifer Scott, Joan Scott, Karen Steinhorst, Mary Farvardin, Millie Kirkwood, Penny Wernsing, Robbi Scafidi, Samantha Varjian and Steve Keuss.

How are you involved with Minnie’s?

Our basic duties are to sort the donations that have been given by individuals, food drives and local grocery stores. We work well together and have been going out to lunch after our Thursday shift for the past several years.

Why do you like volunteering at the food pantry?

We are proud to be associated with an organization that treats its clients with dignity and respect, giving all who come a red carpet experience with no judgment.


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