Notaries are public servants, and for many of you that goes far beyond merely signing and sealing documents. It means giving back to your communities through volunteer and charity work. Three Notaries talked to the Notary Bulletin and shared stories about their philanthropic work and how they got started. Disaster Relief “I’m a volunteer at heart,” said Nell Colbert, a Notary in Winter Park, Florida, and for more than two decades she’s shown it volunteering with Central Florida Disaster Services, a group of medical and technical volunteers who offer their services during natural disasters. Colbert, who is an amateur ham radio operator, works as a communications dispatcher with the organization, coordinating relief efforts in emergencies. Her husband was one of the group’s original founders and she’s been involved since its early years. “Everybody has a responsibility to help out in the community,” Colbert said. “We need to take time to smell the roses and be involved in the community where we live.” Helping Abandoned Animals When looking for the best way to volunteer in your community, Signing Agent Kerri Sands-Schultz of Reno, Nevada, recommends finding a cause you are passionate about that will help others. For her that cause is animals. She started by running a service that helped rescue wild prairie dogs that had been kept as pets and later as a volunteer with the Northern Nevada Humane Society. “The Humane Society needed someone to provide exercise and companionship for animals they take in,” Sands-Schultz said. Apart from walking dogs, she helps children learn how to properly care for pets and fosters baby animals until they are strong enough to move to a new home. “It makes me feel good just helping animals — the purrs of the cats are most rewarding!” she says. And volunteering has also helped her network as a Notary. “You meet a lot of people. If someone asks what I do, I tell them and they will often say, ‘By the way, I need something notarized. Can you help me?’” she said. Reaching Out To The Homeless Kelly Charpenet, co-founder of Santa Monica Notary & Live Scan in California, uses her commission to directly help others. “We have a homeless problem in the city of Santa Monica,” Charpenet said. “I would run into homeless people in the alley behind our offices. Many of them are veterans and we found out they needed to get documents notarized.” Charpenet started offering the services of herself and other Notaries at her office to local charities, notarizing paperwork at no charge for homeless individuals. She says one of the best moments for her was meeting a man she’d notarized for who was able to get off the streets and into a good home with medical care. “Knowing someone is no longer out in the rain, that’s the best feeling you could possibly get,” she said. “Notaries are part of the community; we are commissioned by the state. We take giving back to our community seriously. Who better to help than the people who need it the most?” David Thun is an Associate Editor at the National Notary Association.