The power of place through volunteering
Every day, hundreds of volunteers make our community a better place to live, work and play. This column features volunteers whose energy and commitment promote a sense of community and inspire us. They found a connection; they used their gifts, abilities and hard work; and they give back to their community.
One such volunteer is Carolyn Grill. She started volunteering in the schools in 1990 when her daughter started Pre-Kindergarten at Boise-Eliot School in North Portland.
Grill started off in the classroom working with the kids, helping them learn how to use scissors, how to glue and other important tricks for the classroom. She has volunteered every year since then in every school her children have attended: Boise-Eliot, Stephenson Elementary School, Jackson Middle School and Wilson High School.
Grill has volunteered to do anything that needed to be done. She photocopied, recorded grades, helped with projects, worked one-on-one with the children and helped manage the classroom. Grill has served as the treasurer for two Parent Teacher Associations (PTA) and has been an integral part of the Wilson High School Auction each year.
Grill doesn't just spend her time in the schools. She is one of the founding members of the Wilson Area Arts Council and has been a volunteer for the Metropolitan Youth Symphony since 2001, where she has organized a wreath sale and chaperoned outreach concerts. Grill has also volunteered her time for two rowing clubs since 2003, organizing wreath sales. She has served as the treasurer for two soccer clubs.
When asked about volunteering, Grill said that at first it was all about helping out at school.
'It became a way for me, a stay-at-home mom, to interact with other adults and spend time away from home and chores,' she said. 'I still enjoy helping the teachers, but I also found it rewarding to be appreciated as a person, not just a mom. The school personnel were always so happy to see me, which is a great lift for one's ego.'
Grill is also quick to add that it's easy to get started.
'If you are interested in helping out at school, start with the teacher at the elementary school or the teacher or front office at the middle school, and go straight to office for high school,' she said. 'School offices always need help, no matter the age of the students. PTA is another good way to volunteer. There are always committees and fundraisers that need help.
'The best advice is to just get started. Once you get your foot in the door, people will know you and know your abilities and will be able to put you to work at what you do best. I have never heard of a volunteer being turned away. If someone comes through the door wanting to help, they will be put to work. And it is satisfying to be welcomed like that.'
NONPROFIT PARTNERS: Need volunteers? Let us know.
CORPORATE PARTNERS: Let us know if your employees are looking for ways to make a difference in our community.
Linda Doyle is an active volunteer at Wilson High School and in the community and serves on the board of the Wilson Area Arts Council, the Hillsdale Community Foundation and Hillsdale Main Street.