Impressions: Volunteer in Seaside? There’s a wall or a hall, a brick or a plaque awaiting you

<p>Nancy McCarthy</p>

What I like about Seaside is this: There probably are more volunteers per capita than any other town in Oregon, or maybe, even the world.

There’s no scientific study to prove it. No experienced demographers roamed the streets surveying residents, noting all the hours they volunteered and all the organizations that benefited from the goodness of their hearts.

It’s just my general impression. And, I’m not alone. Jon Rahl, marketing and tourism director for the Seaside Visitors Bureau noted the same phenomenon in a column he wrote for this week’s Seaside Signal:

“If you’ve lived in Seaside for more than a year, or have spent any amount of regular time in the area, chances are good that you know volunteers are lifeblood to our myriad events, activities, rallies, fundraisers, etc. That statement probably rings true for many communities, but there’s definitely something special about the way folks rally around volunteer efforts in Seaside.”

But the volunteers in Seaside do not suffer from lack of recognition. In fact, many are rather famous.

There’s a Hall of Fame at Seaside High School honoring former students and athletes who have gone on to contribute to the community where they live now. Local business owners and residents who have made a difference here also are in the Hall of Fame. On Saturday, six more people will be inducted at a ceremony at Seaside High.

There’s a Wall of Fame at the Seaside Civic and Convention Center. Those 17 faces on that wall are people the Seaside City Council have honored for their ongoing assistance. Their names are familiar to those who have lived in or have been active in Seaside for many years: John Morris, Doug and Cheryle Barker, Tom Horning, Larry Miller, Glenn Bard, Larry Peterson, Steve and Dana Phillips, among others.

At City Hall, there’s even a wall of photos of the city’s past mayors – who performed their government service voluntarily. Their names are also engraved in the brick walkway leading to the City Hall’s front door. The list starts with C.A. McGuire, mayor from March through December of 1899, to Don Larson, Seaside’s current mayor.

Other honors

But wait, there’s more. The Seaside Chamber of Commerce every year gives out the Byron Meek Award (named after a much beloved volunteer who died several years ago) to an outstanding volunteer. Other awards go to more community volunteers and businesses that have helped out.

In addition to the hall and the wall and walkway, the Sunset Empire Park and Recreation District board is talking about creating its own wall of volunteers, beginning with photos of the board members. The park district’s foundation also wants to honor those who have donated so much to improve the community.

Sometimes, on these halls and walls, the same photos appear. Past mayor Joyce Williams, for instance, is on the City Hall wall of mayors and on the convention center’s Wall of Fame. Former park district general manager Mary Blake is being inducted into the Hall of Fame at Seaside High School Saturday, but her photo is also on the convention center’s wall, signifying that she was honored by the City Council for her community service. Harry Miller and Glenn Bard, whose photos also are on the wall, were previous Byron Meek Award winners, honored by the chamber of commerce. Even a photo of Byron Meek – who was given the chamber’s first Byron Meek Award – is on the convention center wall.

All of this recognition makes me wonder how anyone could slide under the radar and just do a good deed or two or three in Seaside without being recognized for it. Other communities may take their volunteers for granted, but here, their photos are attached to walls and their names are engraved in plaques or bricks for the whole world to see. Yet, those volunteers would probably be the first to say they don’t want any honor. They just serve because they care.

For those of you thinking about volunteering in Seaside, just remember this: No good deed goes unnoticed here.

No good deed goes unnoticed in Seaside.

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