Since Thanksgiving is tomorrow I thought it would be a good time to honor some volunteers and those who perform random acts of kindness. The following are just a few of Jackson’s generous folks — if you know of other kind people who deserve mention, please let me know.
June McCollister has been a volunteer for the Wyoming State Health Insurance Information Program and Senior Medicare Patrol Program since 1992. She spends countless hours each week helping seniors with Medicare issues. Thank you so much, June; this is such a valuable service.
Barbara and Larry Huhn handed out 950 gift certificates worth $20 each at the Hoback Firefighters Barbecue and Auction The certificates were redeemable at their store, Hoback Market. Just unbelievable.
Habitat for Humanity has many volunteers. Don Cushman, John Harkness and Matt Hare have earned awards for their many hours of service. Other notable volunteers are Steve King, Steve Epstein, Ed Smail and Tom Gridley.
Mindy Kim-Miller is the first female Scout leader in this district. She is in her third year leading Troop 268.
Mary Obringer thinks about random acts of kindness every day. This is what she has seen lately: A young child baked cookies for a sick neighbor; opening doors for people carrying lots of boxes at the post office; always someone there to help an elderly person who has dropped something on the ground.
Also on her radar: neighbors plowing each other’s driveways early in the morning; every birthday card sent; strangers smiling at one another; a person in line helping out when a buyer doesn’t have the correct change. Mary even witnessed a gentleman giving up his first- class seat on an airplane to a serviceman.
Bob Werner goes to Legacy Lodge in Jackson Hole twice a week and leads morning exercise and guided meditation. Then he stays and has lunch with the residents.
The Pet Partners program brings joy to so many people. I see them at Legacy Lodge almost on a daily basis, including Martha and dog Hazel; Jake and dog Libby; and Christie and dog Faith.
According to Dave Mills, his son-in-law, Mark Spellman, has spent a great deal of time with his carpentry buddy James Brigman lately. James has had medical issues, and Mark has driven him to Idaho Falls several times. Mark also accompanied James on flights back east, as that is where James’s family resides. Cancer treatments have begun.
Lynn Apel, Kathy Kjellgren and Doris Bystrom are all valuable volunteers at St. John’s Living Center helping with resident outings. In addition, Lynn shops for Christmas gifts for the residents, a time-consuming task. Kathy recently provided transportation for a resident who needed to get to Rexburg, Idaho, and Idaho Falls. She is a member of the hospital auxiliary and helps with their special events. Doris calls bingo every Thursday and every other Saturday.
The following was written by Jim Rooks, who is recovering from an accident last summer. He plans to return to his teaching duties the first part of December. He says that kindness is a big deal in his life right now.
“While getting hit by a motor vehicle isn’t much fun, the extraordinary acts of kindness my family and I have received far outshine the pain and suffering. While many people question the heart of our community, I can promise you that it’s alive and well. Jackson Hole is full of compassionate, generous and caring people.
“The random acts of kindness began with the first responders to my accident, including the ambulance team who gave me hope during a very dark time. The nurses and doctors who went above and beyond to make sure I was properly cared for. Anonymous donations to my GoFundMe account so I could afford the best possible care.
“I write this letter from Craig Hospital in Denver, which specializes in spinal cord injuries. A very special Jackson family helped fly our family down here so we didn’t have to drive. Another family helped purchase a specialized chair to comfort my broken back. A local landscaper mowed my lawn. A neighbor installed an extra handrail on a flight of stairs in our home. Teaching colleagues helped cover my bases during my medical leave.
“Countless people have dropped off food, so my family could focus on being together versus preparing meals. Dozens of people have been volunteering to walk with me, which has been critical to my recovery. Some of my former students helped deliver and install medical equipment in my house.
“Local artist Ben Roth took off the entire fall fly fishing season to walk with me on a daily basis, which if you know Ben, is the ultimate sacrifice. The examples are endless. The end result is a feeling of eternal gratitude and karmic obligation to give back and pay it forward. I will spend the rest of my life trying to repay the kindness that has been given to me by the Jackson community.
“‘Thank you’ doesn’t seem like enough when you have been the recipient to true kindness.”
Happy Thanksgiving, Jackson Hole. Take time to shine a light on someone else this holiday season.