A Day of Kindness and Service

PUD Volunteer Day Makes a Difference to Five Local Organizations

A PUD crew worked
A PUD crew worked to reorganize and clean up at the Habitat for Humanity ReStore.

Northern Wasco County PUD workers left their workstations and service rigs behind on Oct. 9 and focused on making their community a better place.

The day was dubbed “Take Stock ’17: A Day of Kindness and Service,” the PUD’s first community volunteer day. An estimated 49 volunteers worked at five sites to clean up, reorganize and otherwise make things better at local organizations.

The idea originated en route to another act of service. Roger Kline, Amy Augustus, Steve Horzynek, Kurt Conger, and Korenna Colquitt of the PUD were driving to Dufur to donate to a blood drive when inspiration struck. Amy and fellow employee Travis Hardy were asked to coordinate the effort.

“We began brainstorming ideas amongst our co-workers,” Travis says, “and asked the community for input via flyers at the main office and handed out at the PUD booth at the Fourth of July event. Our main focus was to try to determine which local organizations could use some pretty serious manpower to help them accomplish goals otherwise not feasible with their current resources.”

Travis and Amy visited potential sites and evaluated work expectations. “We started meeting with interested organizations in June,” Amy says.

Oct. 9, Columbus Day, was chosen because the PUD is traditionally open, though many customers assume they are closed. The PUD has now designated the day for its annual volunteer service day.

Five projects were selected:

  • The Dalles Wasco County Library received a massive grounds clean-up of leaves and weeds over the entire property, roofs, and gutters, as well as a major trimming of the middle and lower portions of the historic sycamore tree at the library’s entrance. Trees, Inc. helped with the trimming and The Dalles Disposal accepted all yard debris without charge.
  • The Habitat for Humanity ReStore crew focused on reorganization, clean-up, and removal of unsellable items, which means the store now has a designated drop-off area, new door storage, and display racks.
  • Oregon Veterans’ Home volunteers visited with vets, took items to Goodwill for residents, played Bingo and other daily activities, and filled bird feeders with more than 450 pounds of bird feed. “This project site was unique for the fact that their volunteer staff led our volunteers and directed them as needed to meet their needs,” Amy says.
  • The Habitat for Humanity home site crew painted the house exterior and trim and dug a trench to run an underground power line conduit to the home.
  • WonderWorks Children’s Museum’s crew did a major reorganization of the rear storage area, assembled 12 storage shelves, and repaired an exhibit explaining hydro-power. This project took longer than expected and as other crews finished up, they headed to the museum.

“We wanted relatively high-impact, high value, and high visibility projects that would benefit as many members of the community as possible,” Travis says.

“We also wanted a variety of projects that would allow PUD employees of all backgrounds and skill sets an opportunity to participate in at least one event comfortably, regardless of physical limitations.”

In addition to PUD employees, volunteers included one board member, a volunteer photographer, a pizza chef, and three high school volunteers.

“It was exciting to see our employees use their unsung skills,” Amy says. “On a day-to-day basis, our employees perform their core job duties. Given the opportunity to volunteer at their location of choice, they were able to use skills that we didn’t realize they had.”

Despite a bit of early skepticism about the volunteer day, and some sore and exhausted workers the next day, follow-up feedback has been positive.

“Because staff could volunteer at the project of their choice and our staff that works at our McNary Fishway location participated in the event, we were able to work side-by-side with staff we don’t often get to work with,” Amy says. “Getting to know our co-workers and working alongside them was a positive experience.”

The organizations were grateful for assistance on projects they otherwise wouldn’t have had the manpower to accomplish.

“Two of our location coordinators were in tears when we left,” Amy says. “They were so appreciative of our help in their organizations. Seeing the impact that our efforts made was encouraging. We are looking forward to a bigger impact in the years to come.”