Editor's note: Tammy Josyln, director of Seacoast Adopt a Block at the Connect Community Church in Portsmouth was chosen as the Portsmouth Patch Greatest Person because of her commitment to improving the lives of city residents and making a difference.
On any given weekend, it is not unusual to see Tammy Joslyn and scores of volunteers working in the community to make whatever difference they can in the lives of city residents in need.
It all began when she visited a ministry called The Dream Center in Los Angeles, Calif., nine years ago and first learned about the Adopt a Block program where volunteers went into some of that city's most challenged neighborhoods, rolled up their sleeves and cleaned up buildings and streets to help people in need.
When she returned to Portsmouth, she wanted to do the same thing here. She recalled her first project was working with the Frank Jones Neighborhood Association. She and her group of volunteers went door to door and reached out to elderly residents who needed help cleaning up their backyards and other chores they couldn't do for themselves.
"Every Saturday for seven years we've been out there," Joslyn said.
She and her volunteers have helped many Seacoast area non-profit groups who help others in need. Some of these groups include: Crossroads in Portsmouth, the St. Charles Children's Home in Rochester, Gosling Meadows, Atlantic Heights, and Woodbury Manor, all in Portsmouth.
They have done everything from grocery shopping and cleaning up trash in the streets and woods to singing Christmas Carols and moving furniture.
Seacoast Adopt a Block volunteers often go door to door in different city neighborhoods to find out what working class residents need if they are going through a tough time as a result of the recession. Often they find they need a pair of shoes, a gasoline card or some extra groceries.
"We're not just here waiting for people to show up. We go out to them," Joslyn said.
Often, the people they help are overwhelmed with gratitude and seeing those people react that way inspires Joslyn to continue her group's mission. She said she works more than 40 hours a week and does not earn any salary or benefits. Just knowing she is helping others in need is payment enough, she said.
"There's nothing more gratifying than to see a changed life of someone you've been helping," Joslyn said.
This Thanksgiving and Christmas, Seacoast Adopt a Block will fill more food baskets and offer Seacoast area residents a place where they can buy up to three donated Christmas gifts at the church along with receiving a box of food before they head home.
Joslyn said her group will receive donations of toys, clothes and food that the volunteers set up in one of the church's function rooms and Seacoast area residents in need can come and receive three of those items per child along with food. "861 people got gifts last year," she said.
Along the way, Joslyn said "you cry with people and you laugh with people" as she learns about the hardships they have experienced and witnesses their appreciation.