The power of place through volunteering
by: Submitted photo, Dan Jenkins

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.

Dan Jenkins and his wife, Cathy Petrecca, have lived in Hillsdale for 12 years and are long-time supporters of the neighborhood's schools and its community. They have two daughters, Natalie, who attends Wilson High School, and Audrey, who attends Robert Gray Middle School. In addition to volunteering, Dan Jenkins is the director of the landscape architecture department at Group Mackenzie, a multi-discipline consulting firm comprising architects, landscape architects, engineers, interior designers and planners.

Wanting to make a difference in his community, Jenkins believes in the difference volunteering can make.

From 2000 to 2005, he volunteered at the Multnomah Playschool parent-cooperative preschool, where he organized yearly work parties. He has also volunteered at various school auctions between 2000 and 2012, including those at Rieke Elementary School and Robert Gray Middle School.

This year Jenkins volunteered for the Salvation Army's Christmas Gift Distribution program and for two years has been a volunteer coach for the girls fifth-grade team through the Wilson Youth Basketball program.

In 2012, Jenkins also volunteered to help set up the course for the Shamrock Run in Portland.

Since 2009, Jenkins has been the parks representative for the Hillsdale Neighborhood Association, 'keeping the rest of us informed, and representing our interests on issues related to parks in Southwest,' Michael Reunert, Hillsdale resident, Main Street board member and community volunteer, explained.

As a member of the design committee for the Hillsdale Main Street Program, Jenkins has also been spearheading a yearlong landscaping project to enhance the look and feel of the streetscape in Hillsdale.

He has, 'worked tirelessly to get the landscaping project on Capitol Highway through a very convoluted city of Portland review and permit process,' Reunert said. 'He coordinated all of the contractors, negotiated the purchase of the new trees and plants and laid everything out for the volunteers that planted the bushes and grasses.'

Despite some hurdles, Jenkins said, 'The Main Street planting was a blast. It was very rewarding to me.'

And his volunteer efforts do not stop there.

Looking to the future, Jenkins would like to establish a 'Friends of DeWitt Park' for the park located across from the fire station in Hillsdale. He sees park users and community members coming together to help with park improvements, activities and maintenance, including upgrading the play equipment.

'It's always great to help translate people's goals into places where children can play, neighbors meet and communities are enhanced,' Jenkins said.

When asked about volunteering, he said that it enables him to experience the joy of giving, both to help the community and to enrich himself.

'Volunteering is a fun, enjoyable and giving experience,' Jenkins said. 'It's always rewarding to serve a cause, work with people, solve problems, see benefits and know you had a hand in the process.'

'The next time you see Jenkins, tell him thanks,' Reunert said. 'Hillsdale is a nicer place to live because of his efforts.

Do you know a volunteer who deserves some recognition? Send the name and contact information for the volunteer with details about his or her work to Linda Doyle at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. All volunteers must provide permission for their story to appear in the paper. The deadline for submission is the fifth of every month.

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.

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