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89-year-old big help at Opportunity Center

April 19, 2014
By Erika Platt-Handru - Staff Writer ( , The Advertiser-Tribune

People of all ages and occupations volunteer time and services at Seneca County Opportunity Center.

Cynthia Morrison, director of consumer advocacy and support at Seneca County Opportunity Center, said the facility has a wide array of volunteers - some high school and college students, while others are much older.

"A lot of times, it's people who have a connection with the agency," Morrison said. "They come and get hooked (on volunteering)."

Younger volunteers include students from Tiffin City Schools, Heidelberg University and Tiffin University, Morrison said, while some of the other volunteers include local veterans, who put on an annual picnic, and the sisters of St. Francis Convent, who host an Earth Day camp at the Earth Literacy Center.

One volunteer, Eugene Phillips, has been helping at the Opportunity for more than 20 years by creating adaptive equipment to accommodate the needs of the students. He also performs handyman work at the facility.

Phillips, who just celebrated his 89th birthday, said he began volunteering in 1990 after his friend told him the facility was looking for a handyman.

"It's a very rewarding experience," he said. "They're such dedicated people and staff."

Projects Phillips has completed for the facility include parallel bars, a kitty litter dispenser and a mail carrier for a walker.

"The kitty litter dispenser was the biggest project," he said. "An electrical engineer, Jim Linthicum, helped on that project."

Phillips also performs odd jobs at the facility, like framing pictures and repairing equipment for the students.

"It's a real help to have some projects to work on," he said.

In 2011, the Seneca County Opportunity Center named a conference room after Phillips for his years of volunteerism and work, Morrison said.

Morrison said other volunteer-based activities have included art classes, Olympic events and the annual celebrity basketball game held at Heidelberg.



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