Pamplin Media Group – Estacada runs on volunteerism
Firefighters, coaches, board members and many more volunteer their time to benefit the community
Every Wednesday and Thursday evening, Jaima Pense and her husband rush to feed their children and tidy up the kitchen before heading to Estacada First Baptist Church for her volunteer work.
On Wednesdays she leads a children’s group called Awana and on Thursdays she leads an adult redemption and recovery group. She also comes in on some Sundays to work in children’s ministry.
“We do it because there’s a need in the community,” she said.
But like many volunteers, she also said she gets a lot out of her hard work for others.
“It gives you a sense of joy,” she said.
Estacada wouldn’t be Estacada without the people who do important jobs for zero pay. April is Volunteer Month, a good time to honor the many Estacada volunteers who give thousands of hours a month of their time and care to the community.
Estacada volunteers are the firefighters who rush into burning buildings to save lives and property and the emergency medical technicians dispatched in the event of a medical crisis. Volunteers spend countless hours serving on the Estacada School Board, City Council, and a plethora of public boards and committees. Volunteers organize and oversee huge sports programs for Estacada’s youth. They honor the dead by keeping the Veterans Memorial spotless. They run the food bank and the Yellow House, help in the classrooms, and keep the places of worship in the community running.
The list is practically endless.
“We have tons of volunteers. Without them, the church, like the city, would not function,” said Brent Dodrill, pastor of Estacada First Baptist Church.
Dodrill, a former mayor, is himself a volunteer member of the Parks and Recreation Commission and Vice President of the Estacada Chamber of Commerce.
“Volunteers are essential and important and must be recognized,” he said.
“Without volunteers, we could not effectively provide emergency services to the community,” said Alan Lashbrook, assistant fire chief for the Estacada Fire Department.
The fire department is training 18 new volunteer recruits to add to its current roster of 40 volunteers. The department has only nine paid employees, which is not enough to provide 24/7 fire and EMT coverage.
Volunteering for the fire department is a huge time commitment. In-person training alone takes 150 to 160 hours, Lashbrook said, and recruits can spend twice as many hours studying for firefighting courses.
“After that, the training never stops,” he said.
Then, of course, volunteers are on duty, called in for fire and medical emergencies and many stay overnight at the station several nights a week.
The same faces appear in many volunteer jobs at Estacada.
“Our volunteer firefighters also volunteer in many other areas. They are doers,” Lashbrook said.
Another example is William Johnston, a school board member.
He has served on the school board since 2018. He spends between 10 and 20 hours a month on school board business, not only attending meetings but also getting to grips with budgeting, curriculum issues, and other complex educational topics.
Johnston works for an education company that operates public charter schools across the country, so has a natural interest and knowledge of many education issues.
If that’s not enough, he’s also president of the Estacada Youth Baseball and Softball Association, spending hundreds of hours each year recruiting volunteer coaches and staff, juggling field assignments and multiple other jobs. needed to keep 380 young players on the pitch. field.
Additionally, Johnston plays drums in his church worship band, so Thursday nights are for rehearsal and Sundays he plays during service.
Despite the joy Johnston derives from volunteering, all jobs come with some stress. In baseball, the volunteer group has two goals that sometimes conflict. They want to make sure every kid can play, but they also want to field the most competitive teams.
“We struggle with that,” he admitted.
A group of about 10 people who make up the baseball association’s core volunteers are also struggling to engage more community members. Those who want to help can see the story of the program in this issue or visit eybsa.org.
Johnston acknowledges that, like other volunteers in the city, he dedicates time to his family to volunteer with children in the community.
“Yeah, it definitely impacts family time. I go to the school board meeting instead of having dinner with my family. (Some days) I have to get up early to have (ball) tournaments and miss breakfast with the family,” he says.
The Johnston family plans their vacation around their volunteer schedule.
Despite the sacrifices, Johnston said he thrives on volunteerism.
“I wouldn’t do it if I didn’t like it,” he said.
“It’s a pleasure to serve” in the baseball program, he said. “You put the time into it and see the joy that comes with the boys and the girls. You can see their growth over time. They learn so much.”
The church volunteer Pense feels the same way.
“There’s something magical about helping change lives,” Pense said. “It is a privilege to support all of these beautiful children and others.”
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