Retiree to the Rescue

Donna Drum took a unique approach to retirement.

Instead of simple relaxation, a once-in-a-lifetime trip or taking up a hobby, the Rexford woman decided to travel daily to downtown Albany and clock 40 hours a week (or more) at the Capital City Rescue Mission.

I've been so blessed in my life that I like to give back and it's time to do that, said Drum. "People come in and are so very appreciative, there's a great need."

For the past six years, Drum has worked her way up the volunteer ladder. She started out getting a feel for the place, working on newsletters and other banal tasks, but pretty soon it became clear that Blessingdale's was where she belonged.

"I really like the clothing room so when I came in more frequently, I came to what is now Blessingdale's and I've been doing it ever since," said Drum.

Drum is director of the clothing center and manages around 20 volunteers and a couple staff members. They spend their days receiving, tagging, sorting and displaying the merchandise and clothing that comes to the mission.

"We put it into the store in a neat, orderly fashion and people can come in to the mission and take whatever they need, free of charge," said Drum. "I'm here by seven in the morning and try to get out by 4:30 p.m. Sometimes I do, sometimes I don't."

Blessingdale's is the mission's "store," a one-stop-shop for people to pick up everything from clothing to appliances that are all donations.

"We give away clothing, household items, small appliances, televisions, linens, anything to set up a household," said Drum.

Drum is one of roughly 500 volunteers who spend time helping the mission each year, with some volunteering one day a year, others once a week and some on a monthly basis. The volunteer base is a mix of city residents, suburban residents, people who benefited from the mission and some who are mission regulars right now. Drum likes that combination.

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