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Belief drives volunteer

The Blind Center volunteer Peter Dunn holds a rocking chair he helped make. (WDN Photo/Mona Moore)

 

Peter Dunn started working with Leola Dorsey at The Blind Center in Washington. Now, he calls her family.
The client/volunteer relationship has blossomed into friendship over the years, and it now extends outside the walls of the center. Dunn said he was the first person to take Dorsey shopping. They often have lunch together, and Dunn drives Dorsey home after they finish their work at the center. He knows her mother and her siblings.
“Leola is a 40-year-old black lady, and she and her mother are the sweetest people I’ve ever met,” Dunn said. “I’m her ‘white daddy’ and fit in with her whole family.”
The Brooklyn native moved to North Carolina 14 years ago. He said he loves living in the South because he loves Southern hospitality.
“I love the compassion, the friendliness, the way people will speak to anyone,” Dunn said. “They live most like Christians.”
The Blind Center is the legacy of a Lion’s Club chapter that has since closed. Dunn was a member of that club and started volunteering about 12 years ago.
With the help of volunteers like Dunn (32 in all), the center teaches life skills to its blind clients and provides them with an outlet. Dunn was assigned to help Dorsey weave stools and chairs that the center sells to help fund its activities and programs. He said Dorsey taught him everything he knows about weaving.
The center is not Dunn’s only volunteer gig. He served as a Scoutmaster in New York for 10 years.
In Washington, he is a member of the Knights of Columbus at Mother of Mercy Catholic Church, and he distributes food for the local St. Vincent DePaul organization.
Dunn also volunteers at a summer camp for the blind.
“To not give back and volunteer doesn’t make no sense to me,” Dunn said. “I love it because it’s giving of yourself. We’re only here for a little while, and we have to pay back what we’re given.”
Dunn goes to church nearly every day. He said he works for Jesus and loves every minute of it.
“I just feel that I’ve got to give back to God the way that he’s given to me,” Dunn said.