By Betsy Bredau
We all find satisfaction being productive, contributing members of our community. For those of us who are retired, our identities and sense of self-worth may have been tightly intertwined with our profession and now that is gone.
Meanwhile, our rural county is blessed with great beauty, but our modest population means that we have an equally modest tax base and not much funding for extra services found in a wealthier, more populous county. Thus, non-profits and volunteer groups fill an important role. Social services, animal shelters, public lands, our hospital, schools and libraries could all use help. Here’s where we seniors come in: we are hard workers, self-disciplined and have old-fashioned common sense. In other words, we are perfect volunteers.
Go to the Tillamook County Giving Guide (watch for the NEW 2018-19 Giving Guide in the Tillamook County Pioneer) and check out all the volunteer possibilities. Then match against your likes, dislikes, transportation needs, etc. If you try something and don’t like it, try something else until you find the right fit. If nothing appeals to you, or you don’t want to commit or you have no transportation, there is still something that you can do. Bring a bag, wear a glove and pick up litter on the street outside your home or on your next walk. Even this small step contributes to a better community.
I chose to volunteer with the Northwest Oregon Restoration Partnership (NORP) nursery, part of the Tillamook Estuaries Partnership (TEP.) The nursery is located adjacent to the Oregon Youth Authority (OYA) facility and is a cooperative effort of the TEP and OYA. My job is to weed small plants and plant seedlings. It may not sound like much, but it’s very satisfying to spend a day weeding four hundred native plants that will be used for salmon habitat restoration.
To my surprise, the most rewarding part of my job at the nursery has been working with the young men who become eligible to work there during the last year of their incarceration. For privacy reasons, I can’t disclose details, but it is apparent to me that our tax dollars are being put to sensible and worthwhile use for the rehabilitation of these guys. The staff does an exceptional job providing an environment to steer these young men in the right direction. It has been a powerful and positive experience that I never would have had if not for my volunteer work.
Volunteering is a like a good run on a beautiful day combined with a productive day at work: you have a sense of accomplishment afterwards and a positive outlook. Try it!