Here at Macdonald Center, we believe that the health of a community can be measured by how its members care for each other. One of the ways that we live out this belief is to engage volunteers to come to Old Town and visit our members in their homes, with no other agenda than to just offer companionship and community. Drawing from both community and student volunteers, in we visited more than 190 members in 2015.
Below is a spotlight on one of our newer volunteers, KayLynn. In addition to visiting our members on a regular basis, KayLynn has increased her involvement by assisting our staff with data management and new member intakes.
Q: Where did you grow up and when did you move to Portland? What do you study at school? What are your long-term career goals?
A: I am originally from the small town of Stayton, Oregon. I moved up to Portland in September 2014 to attend Portland State University (PSU), and I will graduate in 2018. Currently, my major is social science which will help me a lot with my long-term career goals. I want to work with people in a non-profit setting since I really enjoy talking and listening to people.
Q: How long have you been volunteering at Macdonald Center? How did you find out about Macdonald Center and what interested you about volunteering here?
A: I have been volunteering here since September of 2015. I learned about volunteering at Macdonald Center through a PSU program, Student Leaders for Service. I wanted to volunteer at a non-profit that focused on people and humanity, so Macdonald Center seemed like a good fit. It has been a really great experience for me because I really enjoy sitting down with people and talking with them. There is a simplicity in the work that Macdonald Center volunteers do that I really admire. Volunteers are there to be themselves, and to be authentic in their relationships with the people they visit. We aren’t there to change anyone, or make them be a certain way. We are there to just talk and offer community.
Q: What is your favorite part of being a volunteer here?
A: I really love everything about being a volunteer at Macdonald Center. The relationships I create with the people I visit are wonderful, and the relationships I am able to create with the other volunteers is also great. I am able to volunteer with people that I normally wouldn’t interact with, given our age difference or that we live in separate parts of Portland. It is rare at a non-profit for volunteers to know each other so well, and have the ability to create bonds with each other. It is really inspiring to see the volunteers talk with each other about the people they visit. It’s like we have this big community and everyone cares about each other. Even if a volunteer doesn’t directly visit a member, they might know them from another building, or through the Center, so people are always asking how members are doing. It is really heart-warming to see!
Q: What do you wish people knew about Macdonald Center and the Old Town community?
A: I wish that people knew that the Old Town neighborhood isn’t that different from their own. I hear a lot of gasps from my friends or classmates when I mention that I volunteer in Old Town. People should know that the people who live down here are exactly like me, or you, or anyone, but they are just in different circumstances. We are all human, but it seems like as a society we forget certain people just because of their situation. But these people are here, they live here and deserve everything that anyone else has.