SEASIDE - Coral Cook may have retired 10 years ago when her husband died, but she still gets up at 4 a.m. every day.
"I don't sleep," said Cook, 65. "I guess I'm supposed to be slowing down, but I don't see that yet ... I don't have time to be sick."
Cook volunteers as a secretary for Our Saviour's Lutheran Church and is vice president of the North Coast chapter of Thrivent Financial for Lutherans, which matches money from many local fund-raisers. She is an official with Integrated Services Network (ISN), which serves adults with developmental disabilities, and president of the Seaside Lions Club for "the umpteenth time!"
Cook said the best thing about her life was being able to give and make a difference.
"I don't know that I'm ever not volunteering," she said. "It's my life."
Cook's causes range from collecting glasses for the Lions Club to buying play equipment for Goodman Park. She works on newspaper recycling for the Lions Club, though the job involves a lot of physical labor.
"If I don't do it, who will?" she said. "Until I find someone to take my place, it's good exercise and it's for a good cause."
Cook travels to Salem and McMinnville for ISN. She said she worked with developmentally disabled people long before her daughter Brandi, who has Down Syndrome, was born. She started volunteering in junior high.
"I worked at the cerebral palsy clinic at my hometown in New Mexico," Cook said. "I was actually born in Los Angeles, but I got out of there when I was three, thank goodness."
Cook moved to Oregon in 1972, after a vacation in Brookings had her loving the state so much she applied for a job she heard about on the radio.
"We went home and packed up and moved," she said.
Cook worked as a teacher, but gave that up when Brandi was born. She has two other children. Since then, she has worked as a day-care provider, nanny, audiology secretary and admitting clerk at Providence Seaside Hospital, and at Seaside Heights and the Shilo Inn. She and Brandi currently live on Social Security.
"She takes care of her mother," Cook said of Brandi, who is 28. "I think she's decided I need to be pampered."
Brandi also volunteers at Lions and Our Saviour's, as well as Faith in Action, where she cleans an apartment.
"I've gotten her into those things so that after I am gone, she can keep doing them," Cook said. "She's very independent."
She said Seaside has a lot of opportunities for people with disabilities. "I think we're a very giving town," she said. "If somebody really has a need, we all pull together."
Cook said she enjoys fishing and camping with what little free time she has. "Once you get out into the river or into the ocean, it's a different world," she said. "You leave everything behind."
Cook, a grandmother of eight, enjoys going to soccer games, concerts and dance recitals, and spoiling her grandchildren.
"It's wonderful to do whatever you want with them and they can't fault you because you're a grandmother," she said.
- Laurel Eddy