Duluth News Tribune (MN) Published June 08, 2012
Byline: Thomas Vaughn, For the Budgeteer News
Carolyn Dorfman has helped bake more than 3,000 pies during her volunteer years at CHUM. Now, Dorfman is moving to Bangor, Maine, to be closer to family.
An opportunity there at Husson University for a lateral career move made her move possible. At Husson, she will continue to serve as a health sciences professor, as she did at the College of St. Scholastica.
Many who know Dorfman here in Duluth will remember not only her baking skills, but her volunteerism, determination and positive spirit.
"She's unfailingly generous and helpful, yet modest," commented LeAnn House, who worked closely with Dorfman during the yearly CHUM Rhubarb Festival and also has gotten to know Dorfman as a fellow congregant at "the Coppertop," First United Methodist Church.
"We bake approximately 400 pies at the Coppertop for the rhubarb fest, and Carolyn has never missed one of those baking days. She bakes, fills crusts, washes dishes and runs errands. She's just so cheerful and helpful. She's always there and never wants to take any credit for it."
It might even be fair to say that Dorfman was always everywhere. She served the Coppertop as a youth camp chaperone, choir member, former church liaison to the CHUM advisory group, and mission trip participant.
Outside the Coppertop, Dorfman led a weekly volunteer craft group that met at the CHUM drop-in center, to offer those coming to CHUM an opportunity to build rapport during the crafting sessions.
In addition to teaching occupational therapy at the College of St. Scholastica, she served as a board member for PAVSA and Lighthouse for the Blind.
When Ron Berkeland, now dean of the School of Health Sciences at CSS, arrived in Duluth from Minneapolis 12 years ago, he met Dorfman who was then already a faculty member. Dorfman had initiated and was leading the craft group at CHUM for about a year before Berkeland met her. Berkeland wanted to get involved.
"We both had an interest in service and in serving marginalized populations. She had created a good relationship with the staff and volunteers at CHUM back in the beginning, 13 years ago," said Berkeland, who pointed out that Dorfman's people skills also made it possible to keep the craft group going year after year.
"Carolyn is all about consistency and trust. She kept coming back and maintained relationships with a "serving others" honesty. She wasn't doing it for herself and she was trustworthy. That's really an important issue with the homeless or the marginalized populations. They trusted her, so they allowed her to keep coming, and they kept coming to her group. They could count on her. So, her listening and other-focused approach made people feel comfortable and safe."
Mary Schmitz, CHUM's development director, also recognized Dorfman's willingness to be of service.
"One of the things I love about Carolyn is when she says she's going to do it, it actually gets done. When she sets her mind to something or commits to something, it happens," said Schmitz.
One thing Dorfman set her mind to doing was not only creating, but also sustaining the weekly arts and crafts group. She managed the group for 13 years and, with the participation of many students at the College of St. Scholastica, helped it grow. Dorfman mentored the students, allowing them to take some responsibility.
Each fall and spring, a new group of four or five students would get involved for the semester. In the fall, participants and students could craft in a freestyle manner, where students, day visitors, and Dorfman ended up teaching each other different arts or crafts, such as making leather goods, beadwork or dream catchers.
During the spring, Dorfman had students plan an activity each week, including finding the needed supplies. Later, Dorfman would let the students lead the group on their own.
"The students learned a great deal about the folks at CHUM, and the folks at CHUM got to know them as well," said Dorfman during an afternoon recognition potluck held at FUMC last Sunday afternoon.
Pastor David Bard has been Dorfman's pastor at FUMC for the past seven years.
"Everybody in a church has a role and everybody is important. At the same time, there are those who are active in so many different things that they become really a special part of the congregation. Carolyn is one of those people. She's a delightful person and we will miss her. She really wants the world to be a better place, and is willing to contribute of herself to help make that happen."