Volunteers play an essential role in the community

  • Written by Deborah Stone
Greta Nelson
Greta Nelson is the consummate volunteer. The retired Northshore elementary school teacher and longtime Woodinville resident left the world of education 12 years ago and immediately began volunteering in the community.

"I really like the people contact," she explains, "and I feel strongly about helping others."

Nelson has a set schedule where she volunteers at a different place each day, providing her with a variety of stimulating duties and responsibilities, as well as social interaction opportunities.

One of her favorite jobs is a Woodinville City Hall concierge.

According to Brenda Eriksen, volunteer coordinator for the City of Woodinville, Nelson has put in over 470 hours as a concierge, greeting and assisting visitors.

"I enjoy helping people with all sorts of issues by directing them to the appropriate resources," says Nelson. "In the process, I learn more about the city and what’s happening in my town."

The Woodinville woman also volunteers at Hopelink, sorting and distributing food to low income families, and at Evergreen Hospital, where she sits at the main information desk answering questions and giving directions.

In addition, she is a salmon watcher, who has spent many hours counting the salmon in our streams, as well as an avid knitter, who makes baby hats for Evergreen’s maternity ward.

"Volunteers are essential to any community," explains Nelson. "They help to make it a better place. Without them, so many necessary organizations wouldn’t be able to function."

Though Nelson is avid about giving back to the community, she emphasizes that what she gets in return is much more important to her.

"I’m helping myself most of all," she adds. "It’s a great reason to get out of bed each morning!"

Rick Chatterton
For Rick Chatterton, volunteering is a way to share his skills and talents to better his community. He believes it is the responsibility of residents to contribute their efforts towards making a positive difference in their city.

"Volunteering is as important as voting in a democracy," explains Chatterton. "It’s a sign of a healthy democracy."

He adds, "Together we are a stronger organism."

The Woodinville resident has served as a commissioner on the City of Woodinville’s Emergency Preparedness and Public Safety Commission for the past three years and is also on the board of the Woodinville Heritage Society.

"I’m passionate about being personally prepared for emergencies," he comments. "It’s been this way since I was a child."

As for the Heritage Society, Chatterton notes, "I majored in history and received both undergrad and graduate degrees in the subject, so being involved in the Heritage Society is a natural for me. I’m very interested in learning about the history of where I live."

The Woodinville man’s volunteer involvement extends to other organizations such as the Ronald McDonald House, where he is a kitchen supervisor, helping to host outside groups prepare meals for families whose seriously ill kids are being treated at Seattle Children’s Hospital. Though Chatterton has only been living in Woodinville since 2004, he feels at home in this area, and even ran for City Council two years ago.

"I like it here," he says. "It’s one of the most pleasant and livable places in my opinion. And it’s primarily due to the people. Everyone’s very friendly." He adds, "Running for City Council was a great experience for me because I got to meet and talk to so many residents on my door-to-door campaign. And not one was mean or nasty. They were genuinely interested in having a dialogue and expressing their opinions."

Though Chatterton did not win a seat on the council, he is still very much involved with issues that concern the city, as he believes it is his duty as a resident to keep apprised of all that happens in town. And by volunteering his time and talents, he continues to feel connected with his community.

"I do it for the people," he explains. "Like others who volunteer, I get satisfaction from helping my neighbors and my community as a whole. It’s a role that I take to heart and there’s no price tag on it."

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