From Recycling to Composting, Sabol is Happy to Lend a Hand
By Scott Shurtleff
AYER -- Laurie Sabol is busier in her retirement than she ever was during her decades-long career as a librarian.
The 63-year-old fills her days with volunteerism and fills her car with various items for distribution around the community.
Her primary focus is serving as the chairman of Ayer’s Recycle Committee, an unpaid yet high-profile position.
As the committee’s chairwoman, it is her role to educate the public on where, when and how to properly dispose of recyclable items.
And one of those responsibilities is organizing an annual Recycle and Reuse campaign that offers residents, and visitors from neighboring towns, the opportunity to safely discard items that are hard to dispose of.
“We arrange for vendors from several industries to come collect things homeowners no longer want. The vendors reuse the items and sometimes pay for them,” said Sabol.
Last year, the effort drew 625 cars and trucks that were loaded with everything from styrofoam to televisions.
“This is our 10th year doing this,” she said, “and the first year at the new location.”
The Oct. 20 event was moved to Bemis Associates Inc. in Shirley from Ayer because of the increased popularity of the campaign.
“The vendors are eager to participate,” she said, “because they get free raw materials to build new products with or to extract parts for repairs.”
But Sabol does not limit her ecological and community activism to a single event.
The St. Louis, Missouri, native, who has lived in Massachusetts for more than 20 years, also offers her services to NEADS as a puppy-petter, reads books for the blind and has volunteered as an ESL teacher with the Literacy Volunteers of Montachusett Area, which is based in Fitchburg.
She also is hoping to have the chance to build the confidence of inmates at Shirley Correctional Facility by introducing them to Toastmasters International, which an organization that builds skills by mastering the art of public speaking.
Her husband Al, a retired hardware engineer, said, “Volunteering is in her DNA. She volunteers for all kinds of things just like her mother and father,” who Sabol says were very active in the community.
Her most popular activity, at least from a day-to-day perspective, is the distribution of low-cost composting bins.
“The cost is subsidized by Mass. Development and I get them out to people who want one,” she said.
Since starting the distribution of the bins, she has delivered about 300 of the closed-system composting bins. The small, barrel-shaped units come disassembled in a compact package that allows for her to transport them to people who want to create nutritious soil instead of throwing food scraps in the trash can.
“Composted materials are like black gold,” she said, referring to the rich byproduct of the process.
Sabol’s contributions expand far beyond the borders of her adopted hometown, and now spread out to the broader environment.