The power of place: through volunteering

by: PETER J. DECRESCENZO - Lynn Rossing (right) and John Morris.Every day, hundreds of volunteers make our community a better place to live. This column features volunteers whose energy and commitment promote a sense of community and inspire us.

Hillsdale residents Lynn Rossing and John Morris work hard to make our community safe in the event of a citywide emergency. In 2006, they joined forces to become the co-chairs of the Hillsdale Neighborhood Emergency Team (NET).

NETs are made up of Portland residents trained by the Portland Bureau of Emergency Management and Portland Fire & Rescue to provide community outreach and emergency disaster assistance within their own neighborhoods in the event of a citywide or regional emergency such as a severe winter storm, flood or major earthquake. During an emergency these neighborhood experts will be critical, as professional first responders will be stretched thin providing help throughout the area.

With a long history of volunteering, Rossing has served on the Board of Sunstone Montessori School in John's Landing, worked as an AMI Montessori teacher and a block captain for her Neighborhood Watch group. Currently, she serves on the volunteer board of the Hillsdale Neighborhood Association and writes a blog called "Noticing Southwest Portland” (

Morris started volunteering in Connecticut as a board member of the Perrot Memorial Library and Greenwich YMCA. He chaired the Riverside-Old Greenwich Fourth of July Fireworks and Strawberry Festival, and was the president of the Glastonbury High School Parents Committee. He is a volunteer gardener at the Menucha Retreat and Conference Center and board member/treasurer for the Friends of Menucha Foundation in Corbett, Ore.

Today because of the hard work of Rossing and Morris, Hillsdale has one of the largest NET teams in Portland with 15 team members strong. In the event of a citywide emergency, this team will provide basic search and rescue, first aid, fire suppression, and utility shut-off in Hillsdale before professional first responders arrive. Rossing and Morris also work with other neighborhood teams in Southwest Portland for a wider support system for our community.

"All of us should be concerned about how our community functions and try to make sure it is the type of place in which we want to live," says Morris. "I get personal satisfaction from trying to do my part. We all can have a direct impact on what takes place around us — if we get involved. Find something in which you're interested and volunteer to try to make it better."

Volunteering makes Rossing feel productive, mentally engaged, connected to the community, and thankful for the efforts of others.

She states, "In exchange for volunteering my time, I get to support issues I believe in, meet interesting people, be creative, discover new talents, and hopefully make a positive contribution to my community - an excellent return on investment!"

Our thanks to Rossing and Morris and all the local Neighborhood Emergency Teams who work tirelessly to strengthen our communities.

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