Volunteers are valued – and always needed


Susan Williams, left, enjoying time at camp dressed up as a clown. Volunteers were instrumental in helping her enjoy social activites.

In the past I have written about many local events that require volunteer help, if not totally operated by volunteers.

A few weeks ago I shared with you the story of my special-needs daughter, Susan. I would like to share another part of her life involving volunteers.

We go back to the late 1960s in Everett, Wash., my daughter Susan’s birthplace.

I recall her introduction to summer camps, all operated by volunteer youth, at Camp Patterson.

It was at one end of a large city park on the shores of Silver Lake. This camp was supervised by a junior college teacher and his wife in the summertime. Their nicknames were Lobo (wolf) and CrackerJack. It was staffed by junior and senior high school volunteers. There were games, emphasis on fellowship and how to get along in society. Swimming instruction was a priority for those who were capable of learning to be safe in the water.

I focus on three senior high school girls who were particularly instrumental in Susan’s pre-teen years.  

Susan’s chaperone was another young counselor, named Susan L. Two other counselors enjoyed working with Susan and would call on Susan at home now and then for special events in their circle of friends. Susan L., her primary camp counselor, had a part-time job at the Wienerschnitzel (hot dog stand). They also had corn dogs there. Susan L. would call Jean and offer to take our Susan for an excursion to Wienerschnitzel to get a corn dog and visit Susan L.’s parents, who were both special-education teachers, and maybe a trip to the park or church plays.

My point here is – I learned to appreciate those who are willing to give up their time to volunteer to help other people.

When we moved to Cottage Grove from Everett, each time we would go back to Everett for holiday visits, Sue L. would always take our Sue out for an excursion. Other times the other two girls who were instrumental in my Susan’s formative years, would also call and share friendship.

Susan L. went on to get a master’s degree from Western (Wash.) University, and is now a special-education teacher, with three daughters of her own. The other two young ladies became special-ed teachers, also.

It has been a privilege to work with many volunteers in the South Valley. Again, I believe these young people deserve more recognition for their commitment to volunteerism. For instance, the Kiwanis at the high school have the Key Club. They often join the Rotary Interact Students, helping out at major fundraising events, such as Habitat For Humanity, Mayor’s Ball, Chamber Awards Banquet Dinners, etc. These are all high school students who do an efficient job helping major events be successful in our valley.

In the past several years, there has been hot apple cider with peppermint sticks and fresh baked cookies at the downtown Halloween celebration. This event is presided over by the youth of the community.

In speaking with a new Bohemian Mining Days board member, who has a great deal of experience working with youth, he points out what I have observed – many young people will lose interest and walk away from projects if they perceive their ideas are not considered. This goes to understanding and working with energetic young people and taking the time to listen and have a conversation without emotion.

I observe in south Lane County ideas and volunteers, gathering clothes, development of food pantries, and many extra efforts to get housing for those who were burned out. I applaud the thinking and the unselfish giving of time in these efforts to help so many people in need 

There is a saying – “We are all in this together.” The virus, the turmoil in the business world through shut-downs because of the virus, and the sadness of losing friends, relatives, and neighbors, is alarming to everyone. So the statement – we are all in this together – is very true.

The virus is just another horrific element, that in one way or another, touches us all. There are so many efforts going on. Those individuals in the community who are working toward opening Beds for Freezing Nights. Dan Buckwald, working daily to develop and provide resources at Camp Alma for veterans who need help through being homeless or dealing with traumatic stress.

So many different elements that create medical problems that drive people to the streets.

We have food pantries in Creswell and Cottage Grove. Community Sharing is but one. People are in legitimate need. And there are those volunteers who step up and try to help.

Another example are the dedicated volunteers who keep the doors open six days a week at This ‘n’ That Corner for the benefit of our animal friends. When people walk in the front door, they may not realize this is an all-volunteer organization.

There is also the successful rebuild of the 1929 carousel that Judy Cash donated to the Friends of the Cottage Grove Carousel organization. Through Russ McGuire’s excellent management skills and knowledge, the carousel is 100% rebuilt, much improved over the old design, with the help of many skilled volunteers.

These are just a few of the projects in Creswell and Cottage Grove that are successfully achieved through volunteerism.

I emphasize – more volunteers are always needed. I know there are many retired individuals reading this column who feel they don’t have anything to offer as volunteers. Let me assure you – all volunteers are needed. If you have that desire and time, and would like to be part of the solution to so many problems, contact volunteer organizations. 

Remember, we were all trained at one time for something or another. And you are needed.



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