Joan Haas of Barrington has been touching people in need for almost 30 years.
Haas and her husband, Jim, moved to Barrington from Pennsylvania in 1972. She got involved as a volunteer in the schools, especially the PTA/PTO, almost immediately.
“I guess I get it from my mom,” Haas said. “She was a super volunteer.”
Haas has definitely followed in her mother’s footsteps.
For the past 22 years, her volunteerism has focused primarily on – the social service agency that serves the East Bay towns. But she also serves on the board of the East Bay Coalition for the Homeless.
"That's board work," she said.
If you want to get a true picture of her, you need to go to TAP-IN, usually on Tuesday. That’s her regular day at the organization's facilities in the lower level of the library building.
“I started out by driving people to appointments,” she said. “I used to take a little old lady to get her hair done.”
That’s when TAP-IN was still operating out of the medical building on Maple Avenue.
“I came in right around their fifth anniversary,” she said.
Haas was working in the food pantry last Tuesday. She was trying to do the work of three people that day because several other volunteers couldn’t make it.
“We had a big donation come in,” she said. “I was stocking the shelves.”
Stocking shelves, greeting people at the door, giving rides, filling in anywhere there is a need, it doesn’t matter to Haas what she does.
“Once you have volunteered, you just keep coming back. I guess I’ve grown up with the organization,” she said.
Haas got involved with TAP-IN through an aerobics class.
“I had gotten to know some of their volunteers,” Haas said. “Over pound cake and coffee after class one day, I guess I got sucked into it.”
Haas started out giving rides and eventually served as a former president of TAP-IN in the ‘90s, back in the day when the agency had one chief. Now it has co-presidents.
“We want to help as many people as we can,” she said. “Oh, sure, some abuse us. But for the most part, we get to the right people.”
Indeed, Haas said, “I’ve gotten to know some clients really well. You get to know their problems.”
Giving back to the community is something that never grows old with Haas. Just before school started again this week, she was giving out clothes, new underwear and socks to children.
“I feel good that I can give back,” she said. “We have enough to give in this community.”
Haas never stops looking for ways to help people “who come from a needy place.”
“I was out shopping,” she said. “I saw a great sale on pots and pans, 75 percent off. I bought them for TAP-IN.”
If you don’t know it, TAP-IN is an acronym for Touch a Person In Need. Joan Haas is one of many volunteers there who does just that. She's been doing it over and over and over again for decades.