Volunteer Gwen Wildfong celebrates 50 years of service with Assistance League of Greater Portland
Assistance League's founding member has volunteered since the 1960s
Plenty has changed in the 50 years since the Assistance League of Greater Portland became a chapter of a national organization dedicated to helping less fortunate people.
But one thing hasnt changed over those five decades: Gwen Wildfong is still one of their most dedicated volunteers.
The Raleigh Hills woman, now 88, has volunteered with the Beaverton-based nonprofit throughout its history, dating back to even before its recognition as an Assistance League chapter in January 1965.
I am just in awe of this woman, fellow volunteer Allison Mudrick said. She just has a heart like you wouldnt believe.
Wildfong is the last active participant among 21 women who first started organizing the local group from their lunch meetings at the University Club in Portland in 1961.
I was looking for something where I could volunteer my time (in a way) that would benefit children, when her own children started school, said Wildfong, also an active volunteer with St. Andrews Presbyterian Church in Southwest Portland.
Most of the Leagues founding members have since passed away, Wildfong said, but she remains in good health, driving herself to the Beaverton location several times each month for her shifts in the thrift and consignment shops.
Those shops, located at 4000 S.W. 117th Ave., raise hundreds of thousands of dollars a year - usually a couple of bucks at a time - that the Assistance League contributes to programs that help disadvantaged youth in Beaverton and beyond.
Wildfong works the sales floor but doesnt have a particular specialty, she said.
Ive gotten to know some of our customers very well, she said.
Wildfong is just one - albeit the longest-serving one - of between 180 and 200 women who serve the all-volunteer organization. Most of them sell items in the shops. Some of their husbands and other men volunteer behind the scenes, but its largely a women-led organization.
In all those years, Wildfong has never been one of the top leaders on the groups board.
I call myself a worker bee. I just am there to work and visit with the customers, she said. We have a lot of very, very talented women.JW_DISQUS_ADD_A_COMMENT