Last weeks Lady Liberty Award Luncheon in Astoria honored one good woman. It also shined a light on the hundreds of women and men in our communities who volunteer their time, attention and money to essential causes.
Jill Grahams influence and kindness filled Clatsop County like the subtle fragrance of a bouquet of wild flowers in a sunroom. Her death Dec. 7 from surgical complications sent a sudden chill through the charitable and philanthropic groups for whom she was a key organizer.
The awards event was a classic George Bailey celebration of the positive consequences of one persons life of generosity and caring. Sadly, Graham was not physically present for Clarence the trainee angel to show exactly how her actions made countless lives better.
It was clear from the tributes offered that Graham was as much a doer as she was a mover and shaker. The lunch menu included some favorite recipes she used to make herself to serve at meetings and other gatherings. She was a roll-up-your-sleeves-and-get-busy kind of volunteer, not a sit-back-and-tell-others-what-to-do volunteer.
She would have appreciated the luncheons emphasis on the ongoing need for active involvement by everyone who cares about making life better in Clatsop and Pacific counties. The Liberty Theaters McTavish Room was comfortably filled with people from both sides of the Columbia who have raised their hands when the calls come for volunteers to help with this and that.
It also is clear that her robust engagement in improving community well-being enriched Grahams life. A large room full of friends and admirers testifies to the fact this was a woman who generated genuine love and affection. Jill Graham enjoyed a good life at least in part because she believed in making life better for everyone.
Theres a lesson in this for all of us, that anything we can give of ourselves will improve the world. It also quite possibly might turn out to be fun. Dont feel like you need to volunteer for everything. But do volunteer for something.