Sometimes it’s the little things that make our lives better, like pretty flowers around town or a reasonably priced movie. Other times it’s the big stuff that counts, like saving a life, a home or finding a lost child. In all of these cases, the end result is due to the tireless efforts by volunteers who do it for the sheer joy of enhancing the quality of life for all.
From the group of ladies at the hospital who run the gift shop and then donate all the money back to the hospital’s care center, to the members of the search and rescue team, who are often called out of their beds at night to search for a lost or injured person, these are all volunteers who perform tasks with one goal in common– to “give back” to the community.
Dennis Woodward has been involved with the local search and rescue group since 1981.
“It’s a tremendous feeling of gratification that we get when we have a happy ending and that makes this work all worthwhile,” said Woodward.
According to Woodward, he and his fellow search and rescue team members spend a lot of time in the dark searching, looking for clues and hoping for that happy outcome as a result of their efforts.
Scott Allred has also been on the SAR team for about 18 years.
“Our motto says ‘so others may live,’” he said. “This is the bottom line for us and the main reason we do what we do.”
According to Allred the current all-volunteer team of 35 is made up of people from all walks of life. From factory workers to salesmen, from nurses to housewives, all participate for the reward of knowing they were there to help.
And, there is no shortage of volunteers, said Allred.
“We’ve actually had to limit the size of our team to 40, so that we have plenty of time to train people,” he said.
All that is required is a “good heart and a willingness to put yourself out there,” said Allred. “The glory-seekers get weeded out pretty quick when they realize how much work is involved.”
Allred describes the duties of SAR team members as “weeks of boredom, followed by extreme periods of intense high pressure.”
Of the 35 participants, eight are women.
“Anyone can do this,” he said. “The main requirement is a desire to help.”
Craig Sorenson of Deaver has been involved with the Deaver/Frannie volunteer fire crew since 1984. The crew is made up of 12 active and two reserve volunteers. According to Sorenson, the volunteer fire crew is often the first to respond to both medical and fire emergency calls.
“Since our communities are located far away from other communities, we felt we needed to form our own fire department,” said Sorenson. “People appreciate our work. It really takes a load off their minds to know that someone is there to help them.”
Kathy Brown likes to be involved in service projects. She is a volunteer at the Hyart Theatre and also on the board of directors. Once a week she volunteers at the golf course and for many years she was on the Mustang Days committee, the Rose Queen committee and was involved with the Mustang Follies.
“This is a community where people like to serve,” said Brown. “I was taught my whole life to do things for people and I like doing that.”
More than 100 volunteers have stepped up with Brown to keep the Hyart theatre functioning as a low-cost venue for family entertainment in the community.
“Since it was closed for so many years and it took the work of some people to get it going again, many of us just help because we want to keep it going,” explained Brown.
Brown, Woodward, Sorenson and Allred are typical of many volunteers in North Big Horn County who dedicate their time to making life just a little better for the rest of us.
Editors note: Last week was National Volunteer Week. The Chronicle staff would like to thank all of the volunteers in our communities who dedicate their time and resources to make this part of Big Horn County a great place to live.
By Patti Carpenter