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Education Hero: Beth Taylor

LO mom says volunteering connects her to the community


Photo Credit: REVIEW PHOTO: VERN UYETAKE - Lake Oswego mom Beth Taylor is either involved or has been involved in a laundry list of organizations: Lake Oswego Schools Foundation, Oregon State University Alumni Association Board and Student Advisory Committees for Forest Hills Elementary, Lake Oswego Junior High and Lake Oswego High schools.Back in 2011, Beth Taylor’s son Grant was struck in the back of the neck during a Lake Oswego High School football game, going down on the field for 45 minutes.

Paramedics gave him morphine, and he had a bad reaction to it. He was wracked with seizures. It took nine men to strap him onto a board and carry him to an ambulance.

“He unstrapped himself because he had the unbelievable strength that the morphine gave him,” says Taylor, who has lived in Lake Oswego with her husband, Mitch, for 24 years.

Mitch rode in the ambulance with him, and doctors put Grant into an induced coma.

Grant pulled through, but at the time Taylor wasn’t sure if he’d be OK. As soon as the ambulance left, she turned back to look for her daughter, who was about 8 at the time.

“When I turned, I was panicked,” Taylor says. “All of a sudden, I felt like my legs were going to give out. I did not know that all the football players were standing behind me with tears in their eyes — some of them called me Beth, some of them called me Mrs. Taylor — all these big boys in the middle of the heat of their battle were like, ‘It’s okay; it’s all going to be OK.’”

Other parents were watching over her little girl and had arranged transportation to the hospital.

That memory of how students and parents rallied around her is what Taylor thinks about when she considers how volunteerism opened the door to her community. Otherwise, she says she might have been intimidated by those burly football players.

“You get involved, you get to see how wonderful the kids are, how wonderful the families are,” Taylor says.

Taylor has a decades-long record of volunteerism with education- and children-oriented organizations, including the Oregon State University Alumni Association Board in the 1990s (she earned a bachelor’s degree in finance at OSU) and the Lake Oswego School District’s Fundraising Equity Committee, which she joined last month.

For years, she’s been active in local schools, first to support her son Grant, now a college junior, and then, her daughter Margaret, now a sixth-grader.

Taylor has volunteered in the art literacy program at the elementary and junior high level. She also offers general support, such as planning parties and big events like Oswegopoly. (Oswegopoly was a Forest Hills fundraiser in 2001 that raised $100,000; local businesses bought real estate on a Lake Oswego Monopoly board.)

Taylor has served as co-chairperson for sponsorships at annual fundraising auctions at Lake Oswego High, Lake Oswego Junior High and Forest Hills Elementary schools — and on School Advisory Committees for each of those schools.

She has organized major events such as a holiday ornament sale that brought in about $10,000 annually while she was serving on the Lake Oswego Schools Foundation board. On the foundation board from 2002 to 2010, she helped coordinate a community wine event held downtown, as well as the phon-a-thon calling campaign with school captains, the structure still used today.

She does all this and more, she says, for children and for her own heart.

“It’s a lot of joy to see a child learn about art lit,” she says. “It’s a lot of fun to see a child when you’re helping with a reading group when all of sudden a light bulb goes on, and they get it. Twist my arm to plan a Halloween party — those are fun things for me. So, I’m the one who’s having fun.”

She’s not only volunteering in Lake Oswego public schools, but also at her son’s college. Last March, she took charge of the University of Portland’s Diamond Dinner, a fundraiser for her son’s Division I baseball team. She plans to handle the event again this spring.

Taylor is also assisting with a Tigard fundraiser supporting ALS research, and in the past she’s helped create Voices for Children for CASA, a fundraising arm for the Court Appointed Special Advocates program.

She says everyone should volunteer, whether it’s taking tickets at an art event or giving a boost to those big boys on the football team.

For parents who’d like to get involved but aren’t sure how to begin, she says, “Start small, and start in your own child’s classroom.”

To nominate an education hero, contact Jillian Daley at jdaley@lakeoswegoreview.com or 503-636-1281, ext. 109.

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