SPOTLIGHT: Dottie Hamilton willing to go the extra mile
RSVP volunteer serves community in many ways
This article is part of Spotlight, a series designed to connect readers to the people serving their community. Participants will include public safety personnel, teachers and school administrators, volunteers and local government employees who are dedicated to helping their friends and neighbors.
BALDWIN -- Dottie Hamilton is somewhat of a jack-of-all-trades when it comes to serving others.
Hamilton volunteers at the Retired Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP) for Mecosta, Osceola and Lake counties, as a transportation assistant. She and her husband, Charles have been with RSVP for around 10 years.
Hamilton, who lives in Lake County, said transportation was something that people in the area really needed, and her and Charles wanted to help with that.
"Here in Lake County, not everybody has a car, and Dial-A-Ride doesn't always go where people may need to go, so volunteers take them," Hamilton said. "When we heard about RSVP, we decided to volunteer. Anyone that needed a ride, Charles would take the men, and I would take the women."
Charles Hamilton has since had to retire from volunteering due to health issues, but Dottie continues to do what she can to help those in need, and Charles will ride along sometimes to keep her company.
"Dottie has been a volunteer with us since 2010," RSVP Director Linda Connell said. "Dottie and her husband started together and are a great team. She is an A1 transportation driver, and is an excellent example of an RSVP volunteer.
"The best and nicest thing for the seniors in Lake, Mecosta & Osceola Counties is that Dottie will do emergency runs at the drop of a hat," she added.
"If somebody needs a ride somewhere, they will call me," Hamilton said. "If somebody is at the hospital and they need a ride home, I will pick them up. If someone has a doctor's appointment, I will pick them up and take them to their appointment, wait on them to finish, and take them back home. I've taken clients as far as Big Rapids, even Ludington. I've gone to Fremont, Muskegon and over by the Soaring Eagle Casino."
Although she has not been providing transportation since the coronavirus pandemic began, she typically would put in around 150 hours a month driving clients.
Connell said in the span of 10 years, Hamilton has logged more than 2,500 hours of volunteer work.
"I haven't done any transportation since covid started, so about 2 months now," Hamilton said. "Typically, I would be driving, sometimes every day of the week, taking clients to doctor appointments, to the grocery store, or wherever they needed to go."
Hamilton's volunteer work did not start at RSVP, however. She has also volunteered at Five Cap for many years helping to unload the food trucks.
"Five CAP is where my husband and I learned about RSVP," Hamilton said. "We talked to Linda and began volunteering there, but I still pick up food for Five CAP and help deliver meals to seniors."
In addition, Hamilton volunteers at Baldwin Community Schools helping prepare the clothing donations at the start of the school year.
"People donate clothes and volunteers go to the school to fold and clean the clothes and get them ready for distribution," Hamilton said. "We sort them by size and set everything up in the gym so kids and parents come and get clothes to get ready for school."
Hamilton also volunteers to help with the Christmas parade in downtown Baldwin each year, handing out gifts, or whatever might be needed, she said.
Before moving to Michigan, Hamilton worked as a nurse for many years, in Ohio. After finding out that Michigan would not accept her Ohio nursing certification, she went to work as a home health care worker with Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS), assisting home bound clients.
After her husband retired from General Motors, and when she turned 62, she decided to retire also, and they began volunteering.
Hamilton said the most rewarding thing about volunteering is meeting a lot of nice people.
"I meet older people, younger people, and veterans," she said. "I just enjoy meeting them and getting to know them."
When not volunteering Hamilton and her husband enjoy hunting and fishing, and she has a garden that keeps her busy.