It’s National Volunteer Week!

First BNI Volunteers

As we recognize National Volunteer Week, I think back 63 years ago, to 1952. A group of volunteers, including Gertrude Barber, members of the Erie community and several parents, established the first classroom for children with disabilities in Erie. It’s hard to believe today that a diagnosis of a disability would lead to banishment from public school programs, and a future of institutional placement or living at home with no schooling. These volunteers believed that children with disabilities had a right to an education, and they knew that by working together they could meet the challenges ahead and accomplish the goal of providing an education for children with disabilities.

National Volunteer Week is about inspiring, recognizing and encouraging persons on a local, national or global level to seek out ways to engage in their communities and make the world a better place. We honor those people who are taking the time to actively demonstrate their collective power to make a difference, and hope to motivate others to discover their own power. Through volunteering and community service, everyone can make an extraordinary impact and build a better future for the next generation.

At Barber National Institute, we are so thankful for the incredible volunteers who continue to donate their time to our mission. Volunteers are part of the backbone of our non-profit organization. Special thanks to the following people, who have all generously volunteered for years:

  • Terry RotundaMr and Mrs Claus Visit (1)
  • Judy & Jim Dible
  • Susan Currie
  • Marci Smith
  • Pat Vanzandt Christianson
  • Mary Beth Pinto & Jessie
  • Phyllis Aiello & Shilo
  • Laure Sieber & Charlie
  • Employees of Erie Insurance
  • Dr. Seuss Readers
  • Elizabeth Lee Black School Advisory Board
  • BNI Board of Directors
  • Mr. & Mrs. Santa (Rhonda & Joe Schember)
  • Irene Smerick
  • Vickie Lampe of PNC Financial Services
  • Lisa Slomski of First Niagara
  • Ladies Only Luncheon Planning Committee
  • Jean Theis
  • Dr. Steve Krauza, organizer of the Beast on the Bay

To find a service opportunity near you, visit If you are interested in volunteering at the BNI, check out our website under Careers > Volunteer Opportunities.

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