(Gary working at Highlands Day in 2014 with Dr. Shadi and Dr. Ray from Highlands Dentistry, also volunteering.)
I was very fortunate as a child to be raised by parents who felt strongly about serving in the community. They felt it was important to volunteer in the community because it helps create a sense of pride and respect not only for the community but for those who live in it. When a community comes together and supports each other, the community grows and thrives well into the future. You can keep your community safe and active by joining together and participating. My parents continued to serve in their community until my mother passed away and my father was unable to serve any more due to health issues.
I have served in some way in all the communities that I have lived in. In law school, I was a big brother. In Phoenix I voluneered for the local chapter of the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation (I had a neighbor who suffered from CF) as well as to teach Scared Straight to students. Once a week, I and other professionals prepared a meal for the homeless in South Phoenix. When I moved to the Portland metro area, I served as the president of a charity that raised money for Doernbecher Children’s Hospital. I volunteered in my children’s schools on field trips, fund raising and other activities at their schools.
I knew when I moved to Issaquah Highlands that I wanted to volunteer in some way in the community. I attended a new resident meeting and met Christy Garrard and remember thinking, “She is a very nice person. I should see if I can assist with anything she does on the Highlands Council.” A few months after that meeting, I saw Christy’s announcement in the Connections seeking volunteers for Highlands Day. This was my opportunity to volunteer. She and the other council members got me involved right away and made me feel very welcome. At my first Highlands Day, I got to help set up the venue and then help take everything down after it finished. I had a great time. Shortly after, Christy asked me if I would work on ticket sales during Halloween in the Highlands. I also got to help set up and take down with several other volunteer community members. I have now been volunteering for three years and have loved every minute of it.
Unlike other opportunities to volunteer, this one is so fun you wish there were more. Christy, Nina, Brianna, Michele and Vyvian make it so much fun, you almost feel guilty. You cannot find a better team of individuals who care more about each of us in the community. During my volunteer work I have been able to meet and work with some great people. Michele McFarland has served as my mentor with the ticket sales and has been great to work with. She has so much patience and enthusiasm to share. I met Larry Norton, the president of Highlands Council, setting up and taking down the venue for these events. Yes, even the president spends a lot of time volunteering during these community events. He is a great example for all of us. We just finished Highlands Day where I volunteered in the ticket booth with Nathan, Chris and Tim who are three great guys from the community with lots of experience and wisdom to share.
I would encourage you to volunteer and help strengthen our community. Once you meet Christy and her team, you will fall in love with the work and really appreciate the Highlands! We truly do live in a uniquely great place.