BRIDGING THE VOLUNTEER GAP
When you think of the Marjorie Stewart Senior Community Center in Sherwood, you can’t help but notice the tireless efforts of Wendy DeGroot Wells, who for many years, has been a volunteer fixture at the center.
DeGroot Wells — who was selected as Sherwood’s 2021 Community Hero — arrived in Sherwood from Southern Oregon.
“I actually grew up in Southern Oregon, in Ashland, and I moved up to the Portland metro area in 1979,”
DeGroot Wells said, noting that she came to Sherwood after getting a job offer from U.S. Bank.
DeGroot Wells first became aware of the Marjorie Stewart Center when she moved her mother up from Southern Oregon in 2000.
“There were a lot of things here at the center she could participate in,” DeGroot recalled. “That’s really, kind of, my first true connection. I volunteered with the center, off and on, through my connection with Sherwood Rotary.”
DeGroot Wells continued, “When I kind of retired about six years ago, I was looking for something to keep me busy, so I got involved with a fundraising organization called the Friends of the Sherwood Senior Center.”
DeGroot Wells moved up in the organization quickly.
“Like a lot of organizations, once you get started, you get to become involved in leadership, so I ended up becoming the president of the Friends of the Sherwood Senior Center,” she said.
According to DeGroot Wells, the Friends of the Sherwood Senior Center has helped recruit volunteers to run all the programs and prepare all the meals.
“When I first got involved, what we were really busy doing was handling the transition between the Meals on Wheels organization leaving our center and our city taking it over and managing it,” DeGroot Wells said.
“We were responsible for basically all of the volunteer positions. We had one paid position by the city so the Friends basically helped recruit volunteers to run all the programs, do all the meals, basically keep the center running.”
She continued, “Luckily, the city was able to help us with hiring a center director and a part-time chef, Dominic Sachet, so that we were able to offer gourmet meals and wonderful programming. Our center director, Maiya Martin Burbank, has been amazing at finding fun and exciting programs.”
DeGroot Wells keeps plenty busy at the Marjorie Stewart center.
“I usually cover the front desk,” she said. “I get to track who is coming in for lunch, who is coming for the Writers Club, who is coming in for men’s coffee.”
She also collects payments for lunches, answers the phone, makes coffee and provides answers to the curious.
And that’s not all.
“If we don’t have somebody that’s checking people in, I get to do that as well,” DeGroot said, noting she will check temperatures and ask COVID questions of the guests.
Over the years, DeGroot has built up an impressive history of serving others.
Even as she grew up in Southern Oregon, DeGroot Wells did a lot of volunteer work.
“Volunteering is really one of my passions. It gives me purpose,” she said, noting she’s been a member of the Sherwood Rotary for nearly a decade.
Locally, DeGroot Wells said, “I think I’ve worked pretty much every Robin Hood Festival that we’ve had. I’ve worked most of the Cruisins that we’ve had. When my kids were in school, I was always either the soccer team mom, or the basketball team mom, or the softball team mom.”
She added, “I’ve always been involved in service to others.”