As a newcomer to Sarasota, Karen DeRitter was searching for a way to connect with her new community. After relocating in December from upstate New York, the retired schoolteacher began looking for ways to meet new people, get involved and learn a new set of skills that she could use to make a difference.
“I was concerned about moving,” she says. “I lived in a small community for 30 years, and I thought, ‘How do I start again?’ I’d asked my kids to do it when they went off to college, and here I was getting ready to do it again.”
When she arrived, she began searching online for job and volunteer opportunities, and she found the Gulf Coast Community Foundation’s You’d Be Perfect For This website. While browsing, she learned about an opportunity to volunteer at Brides Against Breast Cancer, a local non-profit organization that contributes funds to programs for cancer patients, their families and caregivers. Having been personally impacted by breast cancer, she saw the opportunity as a chance to relate to people with similar experiences.
“I thought, ‘Oh, I would be perfect for this,’” says DeRitter. “It fit the bill. My mother is a breast-cancer survivor, so it’s nice to be able to give back and support other families going through the same type of thing. I feel a connection, and I’m lucky to meet so many strong women who have survived and are able to tell their story.”
DeRitter worked as a volunteer for a few months, working one-on-one with brides to help them pick a dress, and eventually she was hired as a bridal consultant.
Just a few months after moving to Sarasota, DeRitter says her volunteer opportunity had not only helped her become immersed in a new city, but it was also a rewarding experience.
She says she enjoys helping women plan one of the happiest days of their lives and that she’s thankful for the chance to meet and connect with the women who come into the store.
“Everybody has a story to tell,” she says. “It’s amazing what people say in that little room. There are some strong women out there, and it’s amazing what people can survive and go through. I’m lucky to be part of an organization that’s so passionate and committed to making a difference in people’s lives.”
BY THE NUMBERS
80 ¢ — Of every dollar benefits a family impacted by breast cancer
$75 — starting price of wedding gown at Brides Against Breast Cancer
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