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Volunteering has been a big part of Hazel Bartley's life. While beginning to volunteer in retirement may not seem like a long time over a lifetime, but when you are still an active volunteer now turning 100, it puts a whole different spin on her story and outstanding commitment to volunteerism.
Hazel, a lifelong resident of Washington State, was born in January in the year 1919. The same year Woodrow Wilson was President and the Versailles Peace Conference opened to draw up treaties to end World War I. That year the stork also delivered other notable people such as Nat King Cole, Robert Stack, Liberace, Jackie Robinson, and Felix the Cat was born in Silent Pictures.
Hazel was born in Touchet, a little town near Walla Walla. She was raised in Yakima valley, where her dad worked in apple orchards and held various jobs in the farming community. She married her husband just after high school, then moved to Seattle in 1942. He worked for the railroad, and she worked as a checker in a market. There, they raised two children: a son and a daughter.
Now a resident of Hoodsport of 45 years, she said it was a good place to retire. That's when she and her husband started their volunteer careers at the fire department, run entirely by volunteers in Lake Cushman. Her husband was one of their volunteer firefighters. She volunteered for a variety of jobs including as commissioner, and also helped lead a woman's group holding fundraisers to support the volunteer fire department efforts.
For the last 20 years, Hazel has been a dedicated volunteer at the Hood Canal Food Bank. She enjoys her role greeting clients who visit on food bank days. While she keeps track of the number of visitors each week, she enjoys welcoming guests with a smile and warm greeting. She likes to check in with each person and asks about their week. When needed she provides an empathetic ear and compassion when one needs someone to talk to. Hazel also volunteers at the Hoodsport Visitors Center and loves meeting people the world over who come to visit and hike Olympic National Park.
Her volunteer work keeps her motivated. She finds the human connection and interactions rewarding and gives her a purpose. She's made so many friends on the job-volunteers and food bank recipients. They feel like family to her, and provide her with companionship, which she says keeps her motivated to keep going.
When asked what she would tell others about the importance of volunteering, Hazel said, "A lot of this work would not get done if it weren't for volunteers" and added, "it is vital to keep communities going." She urges others to follow her lead. "If you want something to do, and you want to feel good doing something for others, get out there and volunteer."
Hazel considers volunteering to be a vital part of one's life. And, in her case, could be a secret to her longevity, vibrancy and will to live her life!
Happy 100th Birthday Hazel Bartley!