Crestwood therapist passionate about volunteering, giving back to others

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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) - Seven. That's the number of boards and/or committees this week's Pay it Forward recipient serves on. Eighteen represents the number of subjects she presents workshops on in the community. From her job as an occupational therapist at Crestwood Therapy Services to her other job as a community servant, obviously Sherry Kolodziejczak stays busy. She says a deep passion for helping others is what drives her, not recognition, which is why we had to come up with a strategy to surprise her.

Kolodziejczak's friend and co-worker of eight years, Stephanie Mangrum, helped us out.

"It's been very difficult to try and run here and there and stay under the radar," jokes Mangrum.

While challenging at times, for sure, it was something Mangrum was more than willing to do.

"Sherry is just very outgoing and always helping anyone that she can," says Mangrum. "She's involved with several programs throughout north Alabama. She's always running, running, running."

WHNT NEWS 19 showed up at Kolodziejczak's office.

"Holy smokes!" she shouted after finding out that she was receiving $319.

Kolodziejczak's desire to give back started as child, growing up in a poor area of Detroit. She vividly remembers a time after several dignitaries and senators came in to visit.

"Somebody asked me, 'Is this great what we did for you? And I said well it is, except it's not what we need,'" recalls Kolodziejczak. "So, I realized then the importance of asking what do you really need in your community. It's always been my passion."

As a therapist and volunteer, Kolodziejczak works primarily with those that have chronic illnesses like ALS, Multiple sclerosis and Parkinson's Disease. She's also heavily involved in supporting the elderly.

"I really feel strongly about people being able to age in place and drive as long as they can," describes Kolodziejczak. "Which led to volunteering for AARP."

Kolodziejczak told us she is honored to receive the money.

"It feels good," she says. "You know you don't expect it and you don't ask for it."

Shortly after receiving the cash, her mind quickly went to work on ways to spend it.

"I was thinking about a ramp that needs to go up for a little kid with a disability and there's just no funding to do it," explains Kolodziejczak. "I was thinking about a lady who really needs a wheelchair level garden and it's just hard to get projects like that done. We need more supplies for a couple of loan closets that we run for ALS and MS and we really need stuff there."

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