For goodness snakes – volunteer and get involved!

Volunteers at the Portland Community Center pitched in to help out on the Mayor's Day of Service on Saturday, Jan. 8

By MARGARET BROSKO
Communications Manager
e-mail Margaret

It was great to see so many people volunteering Saturday, January 8 for the Mayor’s Day of Service.  Some braved the cold to help build a house for Habitat for Humanity or work on Metro Parks trails.  Others painted or helped families move into apartments.   Hundreds dropped off donations.  It was a team effort that made and will continue to make a difference in our community.  I hope the spirit of the day boosts involvement.

Thankfully, my parents and teachers encouraged me to volunteer.  In some cases, at a younger age, made me!  Over the years, I have learned some great lessons from a simple day or a few hours of service.  These days, I volunteer at a homeless day shelter.  Recently, I was asked to help out at 7 a.m.  I’m not a fan of mornings, so you can image my mood when the alarm went off.  As I was walking into the center, one of the guys called me out for my sleepy eyes.  I told him I wasn’t a morning person.  He quickly responded that he had to be, especially since he and the others have to leave the overnight shelters at the crack of dawn.  Amazingly, he had a smile on his face.  He told me he was clean and sober for 32 days and that was enough to get him going in the cold morning hours.  He put me in my place!  Needless to say, I have a much better attitude these days when the alarm clock goes off.

Volunteer opportunities come in all different forms.  Some are planned activities, others just happened.  One random example was at the Grand Canyon.  It was a perfect day, sunny and 70.  I just finished my shift and couldn’t wait to hit the trails.  Just as visions of peace and quiet were dancing in my head, a fellow ranger said, “Hey, ask that girl.” 

A group from an orphanage showed up and was hoping someone could lead them on a hike.  Why not, I thought!  I decided to take them on the same secret (off the beaten path) trail that I planned to explore.  The questions were non-stop, can we eat this plant, what’s on that rock… on and on.  Not a second of silence.  But, I noticed one kid, Cecil, didn’t say a word.  He was eight.  The two chaperones told me he never muttered a word in his whole life. 

On our way back up the trail, I brought up the rear.  Cecil was right in front of me.  I heard some rustling in the brush.  Perfect, a rattlesnake, it was a pink rattlesnake.  I have to admit, it’s one of the coolest things in the canyon.  I grabbed Cecil’s hand and pointed it out.  The snake made a quick move.  Full of enthusiasm, I asked Cecil if he saw it.  He looked at me with the widest eyes and bellowed, YES!  The rest of the group finally fell silent.    

I know Mayor Fischer plans to continue his Day of Service opportunities.  I encourage you to get involved.  It will certainly shake up your routine.  If you love the parks like I do, join our volunteer team.  And by all means, if you are planning to take a group for a hike, give me a call.  I’d love to be your tour guide, I just can’t promise any pink snake sightings!

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