Caring neighbors volunteer calls role a win-win

Ellen Broedlin, of the Village of Hadley, works in her home office. As service coordinator for Hadley Caring Neighbors, Broedlin found her request for a volunteer to help a client was met with several people stepping up at once.

In the early days of Hadley Caring Neighbors, one of the first kinks to work out was to get everyone to stop hitting “reply all.”

Ellen Broedlin’s request for a volunteer to help a client was initially met with several people stepping up at once.

“It was like ‘ding-ding-ding,’” said Broedlin, Hadley Caring Neighbor’s service coordinator. “Everybody wanted to help.”

The Caring Neighbor service coordinator role includes fielding calls for services and dispatching assistance. Broedlin is the first and only service coordinator for Hadley Caring Neighbors, which went live in May 2017.

“The service coordinator position in Caring Neighbors is the heart of the program,” said Caring Neighbors founder Anne Bosler. “He or she is the director’s right-hand person.”

Broedlin appreciated the efficient and professional way Bosler organized the network of volunteers, so she didn’t hesitate to raise her hand and volunteer for the role.

“Anne was doing such a great job, she really needed somebody and I liked the way Anne was working. I knew I could work with her,” Broedlin said. “I’m very organized and I have a routine for everything.”

Service coordinators must be empathetic people who have a great desire to help those in need, Bosler said.

“Ellen is friendly, easy to talk to and she genuinely cares about those in need,” she said. “She listens well and is extremely organized. All these qualities make her a perfect fit for this leadership role.”

When Bosler told Broedlin what the service coordinator role needed, Broedlin immediately made it her own.  

“Ellen is very level-headed, and she is quick to volunteer and to offer insights and opinions,” Bosler said. “Over the years, she has refined her role to the point that she now shares her system with service coordinators in new Villages that are adopting the program.”

One of Broedlin’s most fond moments as a Caring Neighbors volunteer came in 2018. She was surprised when her fellow volunteers voted for her as Volunteer of the Year during a dinner. Clients had come, too — people Broedlin had formed relationships with.

“They become your friends,” she said. “It was very gratifying to win the award, but also have all of those clients there who I’ve dealt with.”

Volunteering isn’t difficult or time consuming, Broedlin said.

She doesn’t see an end date for her tenure as service coordinator, citing it as a win-win. It offers her an opportunity to give back while also be completely immersed in her community.

“It’s a good feeling to know that you can help somebody,” she said. “Why would you stop that feeling?”

Staff writer Julie Butterfield can be reached at 352-753-1119, ext. 5254, or julie.butterfield@thevillagesmedia.com.