By Herb Meeker
News Report Staff
Four mornings every week, Dieterich resident Betty Hinterscher fires up her Chevrolet Sonic and drives to the Catholic Charities building on U.S. Route 40 between Effingham and Teutopolis.
Being an early-riser, she arrives before many other volunteers at Second Hand Rose, a charity that draws thousands of donations each year. Some days, Betty brings some baked goods from her kitchen for the break room that are supplemented or savored by the other 100 volunteers at Catholic Charities.
“One day, I decided to take something in for everybody to eat. I like to bake. If you cook for one person it’s no fun,” Betty said. There was a plate of her chocolate cake sprinkled with coconut flakes among other baked goods on the table.
She started volunteering at Second Hand Rose after her husband, Ray, died in 2012. She decided she was not going to be a widow just sitting at home and remembering better times.
“I had come to Catholic Charities quite often so I was familiar with what they were doing. I decided this looked like it would be a good place to help out. I couldn’t set at home and do nothing. Working here is much better than sitting at home in a chair. I’m not a sitter. That’s boring.”
It is that spirit of pitching in that earned this silver-haired grandmother the 2018 Effingham County Volunteer of the Year Award. Here work is simple for a charity, but she adds more value to her hours each week.
Betty takes shopping carts full of clothing sorted for the sales racks. She has become very adept at placing the clothing items in the right places, as long as the racks aren’t re-arranged.
“Her memory is vital to getting items out there, and she will notice when things have been moved,” said Second Hand Rose Store Manager Carrie Crippen with a grin.
Betty, an active 79-year-old, doesn’t help as much with the sorting because she is not good at discarding items that can’t be sold.
“I’m not good at telling what is good or bad,” Betty admitted.
She is very good at raising spirits at Second Hand Rose, which was mentioned in her nomination letter as Effingham County Volunteer of the Year. Her smile in infectious; it is hard to have a bad day when Betty is in the building.
“The people I work with are really great people to work with. You couldn’t really ask for better people,” Betty said.
Working with people has kept her busy through much of her life. Her first job was at an old-time grocery store in Lerna, a village on the south side of Coles County. She stocked the shelves, waited on customers and even helped take care of the owner’s daughter and the family’s cocker spaniel.
She maintained a love for smaller animals, including the years when she raised small horses and burros. Nowadays in Dieterich, she has “Tiger” the cat, and “Snowball” and “Butterscotch,” a pair of dogs.
She and Ray met and were married at a minister’s home in Lerna after they finished their respective schooling – his was through Eastern Illinois University and she graduated high school in Charleston.
With Ray’s teaching career, they would eventually move to Dieterich, where they raised a family of two boys, Gene and Raymond Jr., and a daughter, Penny. They have blessed Betty with five grandchildren.
Over the years, Betty helped at nursing homes so the decision to help out at Catholic Charities was a natural extension of her caring for others.
“I just figure I’m helping out everyone. And everybody’s the same,” Betty said. “There are a lot of people who need help and some don’t want any charity. But the parents do realize this is very helpful for their children.”
Crippen explained that 100 different volunteers help transform the many donations from piles in boxes or bags to professional-looking displays in the store, which also offers furniture, household items, books, footwear and other items for people in need or adhering to a budget.
The volunteer workforce ranges in age from teenagers to people in their eighties. Catholic Charities also helps the needy in seven counties through assistance with food, lodging, medical services, utilities and legal services.
“People come here because they know they are giving their donations to a charity in a unique way,” Crippen said. “The volunteers are vital to what we’re doing here. We couldn’t do it without them.”
Crippen and her volunteers were happy when it was announced that Betty was receiving the Volunteer of the Year Award at the January 20 Effingham County Chamber of Commerce Gala.
Of course, they had to keep it secret so she would attend the Gala with her daughter and granddaughter that night. There was some subterfuge so that Betty was surprised when Effingham & Teutopolis News Report Publisher Steve Raymond announced her name for the award sponsored by the newspaper.
“Everyone was glad when she received it,” Crippen said.
Betty is still receiving congratulations from different people, just as she did during the night of the Gala.
She is not ready to rest on her laurels, though. Expect her arriving early at Second Hand Rose for many days to come.
“As long as I can put one foot in front of me I’m going to do this,” she vowed.