Meet Volunteer of the Month Barb Mulligan | News | #hospice | #elderly | #seniors
CONNEAUT LAKE — The old adage is “if you want something done, ask a busy person.”
The “busy person” could best describe Barb Mulligan of Conneaut Lake.
She has been volunteering for years in many organizations and doing many jobs — all of which she loves.
Mulligan said she came by the love of volunteering naturally. Growing up, her family was always helping out — in the church and in the community. It was just something you did. Then she got married and her husband was a “great cook” who did a lot of cooking at St. Brigid’s Roman Catholic Church and she volunteered to help with the dinners there for 20 years.
In college, she started out believing she wanted to be a nurse, but then decided she really like social work better. “Social work was a better fit,” she said, noting she enjoys people and organizing projects. So she majored in social work at Edinboro University. After graduation, she was employed by Crawford County Children and Youth Services where she investigated child abuse cases. She later was employed by Hospice of Crawford County, retiring from her position there in April of 2020 — just after the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Although Mulligan was a paid employee at Hospice, she also did a lot of organizing things there — often on weekends — including the annual golf outing and the annual bluegrass festival. Both events required a lot of planning, but were very successful every year. She enjoyed that work. It brought some entertainment to her job, which often included going to the funeral of patients and friends.
In 2013, her family moved to Conneaut Lake and she quickly became involved in community and church activities.
Although she was raised Presbyterian, Mulligan said her husband was Catholic and “we serve one God,” so she saw no need to go to different churches, instead following him and joinining the Catholic church.
A list of her volunteer work is lengthy and combines church and community activities. At Our Lady Queen of the Americas Church, she is president of the Rosary and Altar Society and since her retirement has volunteered with the Samaritans, a organization founded by the women of the church to help those in need. She helps with the store operated by the Samaritans as well as other chores. In another church-related project, she will be working in the kitchen one day during the His Work His Way project — a week-long event held by the organization which is comprised of many of the Conneaut Lake-area churches whose volunteers help seniors and low-income families with home maintenance projects.
Mulligan also is a member of the Conneaut Lake Garden Club, Conneaut Lake Area Historical Society, the Best Book Club Ever, Shady Avenue Association, the Ice House Festival and the Breast Cancer Golf Outing, the latter a women-only tournament to raise funds for breast cancer research.
As a two-year survivor of breast cancer, the golf outing is a personal one for her. “It’s all women and they all wear pink,” she laughed. They decorate their golf carts and have a great time while raising money for this important cause.
She loves to garden — both floral and vegetable, so the garden club is a perfect organization for her. She lives in the Shadyside Allotment on the east side and said her yard is full of flowers. She enjoys the sight of them.
At the historical society, she volunteers for many of the main fundraisers, including the Paddlefest, golf outing and Pumpkin Fest. Again, her organizational skills and love of people have made that work a joy for her.
Her organizational skills were obvious and she was asked by the Shadyside Association to organize its annual garage sales.
She assists with the chili cook-off at the annual Ice House Festival, which raises funds for revitalization of Conneaut Lake. Again, she is using her skills to benefit her community while having a good time.
In the past, Mulligan often volunteered for catering showers or parties and loved it. A friend told her “you know, you can get paid for this,” so she began a side job of catering. That soon became another busy thing for her to do, catering all types of events — including weddings on the Barbara J paddleboat at the lake.
She does take time to relax. Once a month she meets with friends to read and review books. At first, the gathering included just snacks, but now it has grown to a full dinner at one of the member’s homes.
Mulligan also relaxes by entertaining her grandchildren. She laughs that she is close to the lake and her grandchildren enjoy that. “They tell their friends that Grandma owns a lake,” she said with a laugh.