"Plant the Seeds of Kindness" was the theme at this year's volunteer recognition breakfast party, organized by staff of the and hosted for the first time at Retirement Community on Wednesday.
The center has become a second home for many seniors who don't have family or children nearby and are looking for friendship and camaraderie, said manager Jobyna Nickum. But "it's not us [the staff] who make the senior center work," she told the volunteers. "It's all of you."
During any given month, there is anywhere from three to 4,500 hours of volunteer work being logged at the senior center, she said.
Whether volunteers are helping out at the senior center or any of the other local organization in town, "without volunteers, the community, the state and the country could not go on," she said. "What you do makes a difference."
Mayor Liz Reynolds joined Nickum in thanking the volunteers. "My parents taught me that a community is what you make of it," she said. As mayor, "people have said 'I hope Enumclaw never changes.' What makes Enumclaw special is each and every one of you. Without volunteers, you would find Enumclaw would be an empty town."
Among the highlights of Wednesday's party were the recognition of three individuals who have each logged more than 1,000 hours of volunteer work at the center:
- Marshall Gutierrez
- Jean Gillespie
- Lillian Popp
Gillespie, 91, was also honored for her continuous work at the senior center, dating back to 1998. Having started working five days a week at the center and slowly cutting her time to four days a week and now two days a week due to illness, Gillespie has never slowed down her entire life.
When asked what motivates her to continue working, she said, "I've worked all my life and it's hard to stop. There's nothing in the Bible that says you should stop working."
Prior to retirement, Gillespie said she spent 40 years working for Graybar Electric. She's also been a teacher and worked for Sears Roebuck and Boeing and during World War II, worked in an ammunition plant.
Gillespie is originally from Missouri.