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Barbie Tea Luncheon

Making a Positive Impact on Others

Volunteering is often hailed as a selfless act, a way to give back to the community and support those in need. But beyond the altruism lies a profound impact that reaches far and wide, touching not only the lives of those being served but also the volunteers themselves and the community as a whole. 

Fostering Connection & Belonging 

In a world that sometimes feels increasingly disconnected, volunteering serves as a powerful antidote. It brings people together from diverse backgrounds, uniting them under a common cause. Whether it’s serving meals at a homeless shelter, tutoring students in underserved communities, or cleaning up local parks, volunteering fosters a sense of belonging and solidarity. It reminds us that we’re part of something greater than ourselves and that our actions, no matter how small, can make a meaningful difference. 

Nancy Roberts, a Touchmark Pilot Butte resident, was an elementary school teacher in Culver, Oregon, for 24 years, left Bend for a few years, and returned about four years ago.  She was excited to get back into helping the community and enjoys volunteering at Bethlehem Inn where she connects with people through the sack-lunch program.  She says, “I love being there interacting with people, it makes me feel good, and it’s fun and rewarding helping out versus just giving money.” Nancy and her friend Carol, also a Touchmark resident, recently participated in the “bag” job where volunteers fill lunch bags. She said they had a fun time together and in 45 minutes, they did 50 bags between the two of them. 

Carolynn Smith, also a Touchmark Pilot Butte resident, says she’s a “connector for all people” and volunteers mostly at the Touchmark community.  Instead of volunteering out in the greater community, she believes the best way for her to give back is to help facilitate connections between the Touchmark residents and outside organizations. With other family commitments, she doesn’t have a lot of time to commit, so she loves drawing upon her love for organizing events and recently facilitated meals donated to the Shepherd’s House and donations to the Humane Society.   

Building Empathy & Understanding 

Stepping into the shoes of those facing hardship or adversity can be a humbling experience. Volunteering exposes us to different perspectives and challenges, broadening our understanding of the world around us. It cultivates empathy as we interact with individuals whose lives may be vastly different from our own. Through these interactions, stereotypes are shattered, prejudices are challenged, and bridges are built between people of varying backgrounds. In a society often divided by differences, volunteering serves as a powerful tool for promoting empathy and understanding. 

Nancy used to spend a lot of time volunteering at a community center in Bend where they would prepare Sunday meals for people in need of nourishment.  One special moment she recalls was when a gentleman asked her what food he can take into the woods that will last since he lived out there.  It made her heart warm that they could provide food for those who needed it most and they were so appreciative of the volunteers.  

Empowering Individuals & Communities 

Volunteering is not just about providing aid; it’s about empowering individuals and communities to create lasting change. Whether it’s teaching job skills to the unemployed, providing resources for low-income families, or advocating for policy change, volunteering equips people with the tools and resources they need to build brighter futures. It instills a sense of agency and self-efficacy, reminding individuals that they have the power to shape their own destinies and contribute to the betterment of society. 

Nancy participated in a local Bend program called SMART Reading for about three years. She loved reading to kids and giving them the tools to have a bright future of discovery and learning.   

With a master's degree in education and a retired schoolteacher, Carolynn taught third grade in Danville, California, where she published a color book about the history of Danville using each letter of the alphabet in her storyline. She loves to give back and spearheads the “tea committee,” where she hosts three tea luncheons per year. Each has a specific theme, and Carolynn procures the theme donations and decor at no cost and then donates the items to those organizations in need after each event. For example, the most recent tea was a “Barbie” themed, and she reached out to one of her sources called Buy Nothing Bend and asked if anyone had Barbies and related Barbie toys to donate. Buy Nothing Bend came back with an overwhelming stock of what she needed for the event. At the end of the tea events, there are usually a few giveaway themed items given to residents and attendees, and then all other items are donated to a non-profit.  

Inspiring a Culture of Service 

Perhaps one of the most significant impacts of volunteering is its potential to inspire others to take action. When people see their friends, family members, and neighbors volunteering their time and talents, they’re more likely to get involved themselves. This ripple effect creates a culture of service where acts of kindness and generosity become the norm rather than the exception. As more people join the ranks of volunteers, the collective impact grows, creating a positive feedback loop of goodwill and social change. 

Nancy’s work has inspired many over time through for 25 years of volunteering at the Lions Club. Her work has her helping with children’s hearing and eye checks at the schools and giving flags to first graders while educating them on the significance of our flag. 

As a talented artist specializing in watercolor, Carolynn donates her time and talent through art classes and activities at Touchmark and enjoys connecting and inspiring others to do some sort of service in their community. Overall, Carolynn loves to encourage people to give back and has fun doing it. Her motto is “What can you do from where you live? You can make a phone call or you can send an email, and you can make a big difference.” 

Volunteers Provide a Beacon of Hope & Resilience 

Volunteers bring people together, foster empathy and understanding, empower individuals and communities, and inspire a culture of service. As we strive to build a brighter future for ourselves and future generations, let us never underestimate the profound impact of lending a helping hand to those in need. For in the act of volunteering, we not only transform the lives of others but also enrich our own in ways that words cannot fully capture. 

Thank you to the residents featured in this story for sharing their amazing efforts with all of us!