In the dictionary the definition of the word “volunteer,” is a person who performs a service willingly and without pay, but it doesn’t define the countless hours, money, and dedication it takes to be a volunteer in the the Oakhurst mountain community.
Nearly 30 service league groups came together under one roof for the first annual Volunteer Expo, held at the Oakhurst Community Center, Saturday May 3. It was a way to celebrate volunteerism and to get the word out about making a difference within our community.
The event brought together Mountain Area clubs and organizations, such as Coarsegold Grandmother’s Club, The Eastern Madera Country SPCA , Friends of the Oakhurst Branch Library, Sierra Mountain Quilters Association, Soroptomist International of the Sierras and many more.
Bass Lake Lions Club, which is a major contributor to non-profits, estimates it will donate more than $14,000 this year alone. Diane who is a member and volunteer advocate said, “We will more than likely donate to every organization that is here under this roof, participating in this event. The Lions Club likes to focus on youth programs and is a large contributor to Yosemite High School and the Band Program.”
The mission of these organizations is to reach out to the community and to educate on the different types of services available, free of charge to the public.
Dale A.Rushing, branch manager of the Oakhurst Library, is doing her part in spreading the word, not just about the Summer Reading Program, Children’s Programs and Teen Programs, but the computer, mass collection of databases, and audio books that are now available.
“We want the public to become familiar with the many services provided by the Library,” Rushing said. “We offer a list of services and resources besides books to the public.”
Sandy West of the Positive Living Center understands the importance of the word, volunteering.
“It’s wonderful here in the mountain community — everyone volunteers, wonderful things get done and it’s fun to be apart of that.” Sandy, stresses her belief in community outreach and volunteering. “A lot of projects, which lack the funds, could not have propelled forward without the help of volunteers.”
Ironically, to put on the expo takes a tremendous amount of time and energy from volunteers. Dottie Lee, chairperson of the event, emphasized the importance of strengthening the core groups that keep this community thriving.
“Every group represented here today is contributing to the community in one form or another,” Lee explained. She sees the expo as an eye opener to the community and hopes to see it grow. “ The Volunteer Expo is a wonderful way to network amongst each other and let the community know that we are here.”
However you may define the word, volunteering is something that will not only make a difference within the community you live in, but a difference in how you live in your community.