"Live a good life, and in the end, it’s not the years in the life, it’s the life in the years."

He came in for a lunch and came back to work in the kitchen

By on June 25, 2019 in Uncategorized with 0 Comments
It’s not all work… sometimes it’s Hawaiian Days with tiny bubbles. Jay Young is in a hula skirt, Saidee Rice is on the uke and Tim Myrtle works the bubble machine.

By Jay Young

After retiring from my teaching position at Wenatchee High School in 2015, I started to wonder what I was going to do with my time. 

For over 40 years I was on a schedule. Every September started with a new group of students. We would traverse the landscape of United States history and world history. Then in June, the year would end and I pursued more schooling, work and — later in my career — the pleasures of languishing in the delicious warm air of summer.

Travel became an instant option and road trips. Adventures to places such as New York City, Washington D.C. and Europe filled many a day. 

That was perfect for the times not in Wenatchee, but what about here? What could I do here? 

I spent one summer volunteering with Small Miracles, a local non-profit dedicated to ending hunger among children in the Wenatchee Valley. That was quite rewarding, seeing the children show up at a local park and the pure delight in their eyes as they were given lunch for that day. This sparked an interest in me to find more opportunities. 

Sometimes as you are looking for something, it finds you. 

Diane, my wife, and I decided one day to have lunch at the Wenatchee Valley Senior Activity Center. Little did I know that day would lead to a profound change in my life. 

Lunch was amazing and so we decided to return and see if this was a one-time wonder or a good way to spend the lunch hour. We were pleasantly surprised as the food was wonderful and we met so many delightful people. 

On our first visit, Dave Tosch, the director, sat down with us and explained the many volunteer opportunities available. It was all fine and good, but after all my only intention was to enjoy a good lunch and socialize. 

After a few lunch visits, I noticed there was a window where people would put their dirty plates and the person working the window would hand them to another person in the kitchen. 

Due to an unforeseen circumstance the window person, who was a volunteer, had to step down. After talking to Dave and offering to fill in, I started my volunteer time at the center. 

Jay works with the kitchen staff that include, left to right, Shaylee Fry, Tim Myrtle, Candice Rice and kitchen manager Penny Petersen.

Over the course of the last two years I have expanded my responsibilities, primarily volunteering in the kitchen, and when we are in town, I am there five days a week.

My time now is spent helping to serve lunch, washing and putting away the dishes, placing chairs and tables for special days, at times dancing the hula and in general helping where I can. 

There is a marvelous staff and volunteers in the kitchen, which is run by Penny Petersen. 

I mentioned special days — every month there is a western day, a birthday Friday, a sparkle and shine day and a Hawaiian day. Meals are served at noon and the average attendance is a little over 100. For the special days, attendance can go all the way up to 200.

As I talk to friends and tell them what I am doing, I am astounded at some of their questions. 

The most common ones fall into the category of not understanding what happens there. I get questions like: How many beds do you have at the center and how many residents are there at one time. 

I explain this is a senior activity center with a wealth of opportunities. These include a writing club, computer classes, exercise classes, various trips (locally and to distant places), an excellent thrift shop, bingo night and the list goes on. 

One of my favorite activities is the Wii bowling league. This includes shirts, teams, Wii bowling bags and head-to-head showdowns.

One of the joys I had as a teacher at Wenatchee High School was the interaction with my students and my colleagues. Everyone has a story, a collection of events that make him or her unique. 

As a volunteer at the Wenatchee Valley Senior Activity Center, I can continue that learning opportunity with an amazing group of people. As I listen to them, I am getting such an appreciation of the town we live in. 

Whether it is from the group of WHS alumni, or the Friday table of WWII veterans, the stories never stop. I never get tired of hearing the small tales and the big ones. 

Volunteering has given me the opportunity to stay connected with a wonderful group of people, while helping in some small way. I am fortunate to be a part of this “hidden treasure” of Wenatchee. 

I encourage anyone of any age to take that leap to be a volunteer in some capacity. I found my niche here, at the center. 

There are so many opportunities and I can attest to the fact that as what you give, you will receive as much and more in return. 

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