Local volunteers have had huge impact on community

I would like to share the following poem with you: The Dash By Linda Ellis

I read of a man who stood to speak at the funeral of a friend.
He referred to the dates on her tombstone from the beginning…to the end.
He noted that first came the date of her birth and spoke of the following date with tears,
But he said what mattered most of all was the dash between those years.
For that dash represents all the time that she spent alive on earth and now only those who love her know what that little line is worth.
For it matters not, how much we own, the cars…the house…the cash.
What matters is how we live and love and how we spend our dash.
So think about this long and hard; are there things you’d like to change?
For you never know how much time is left that can still be rearranged.
If we could just slow down enough to consider what’s true and real and always try to understand the way other people feel.
And be less quick to anger and show appreciation more and love the people in our lives like we never loved before.
If we treat each other with respect and more often wear a smile…remembering that this special dash might only last a little while.
So when your eulogy is read with your life’s actions to rehash would you be proud of the things they say about how you spent your dash?

I hope for your sake that you have had the privilege of knowing folks that have made a heck of an impact during the time they lived their dash.

I have.

In my capacity of working with volunteers at the Senior Center, I have the honor of working with many individuals here and within our community who have made amazing impacts by serving others in many ways.

This past year, we unexpectedly lost too many of these extraordinary individuals far before we were ready to say good-bye.
Due to space limitations I am unable to share the names of each of them as I would like, so please forgive me for singling out two Senior Center volunteers; Duane Portwood and Nora Gazdik.

Besides the tangible legacy each one of them left —not only their families, but Duane’s book of poems and short stories, his many entertaining newspaper articles, or Nora’s impact on our community with her family-owned business of Bino’s — they left a lasting impression of true service to others.

If you spent any time in the Senior Center dining room, you were witness to their ability to make everyone they met feel special with their genuine warm greetings and their unconditional willingness to serve others.

The world was simply a brighter place with them in it.

In his sermon last Sunday Pastor Phil Wold shared the following quote from Toyohiko Kagawa. Toyohiko Kagawa was a Japanese Christian pacifist, Christian reformer, and labor activist. Kagawa wrote, spoke and worked at length on ways to employ Christian principles in the ordering of society and in cooperatives, “I read in a book that a man called Christ went about doing good. It is very disconcerting to me that I am so easily satisfied with just going about.”

I had to think on this one for a moment.

I’d been told that it’s OK to simply be. But I think that those opportunities “to be” should be used to energize ourselves so we can go out and do good; we try to do too much and miss the opportunities to simply sit and meditate and to be reflective.
However, what an awesome impact we can make when we do “go about doing good!”

I can say without hesitation that the Duanes, Noras and so many of the extraordinary individuals I’ve had the privilege to meet do just that, and my life and our community are better for it!

Nancy McKenzie is the Director of Volunteer Services at the Sheridan Senior Center.

Center Stage is written by friends of the Senior Center for the Sheridan Community. It is a collection of insights and stories related to living well at every age.


Tom Cotton

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