The Senior Citizens Affairs Foundation (SCAF) named Sharon Weir as their Volunteer of the Year for 2021.
Chosen by the three supervisors of SCAF, the organization runs the thrift store and dining hall in the Pine-Strawberry Community Center.
Weir started helping and then became an integral part of the team, said SCAF board member Sheri Earp.
Weir primarily works in the dining room Monday through Thursday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., getting tables set, serving meals and beverages, and cleaning up after. On Friday she spends her four hours of volunteers time at the Pine library (across Randall Place from the Pine Mall). And on Saturdays she spends four hours in the back room of the thrift store sorting through the myriad of donations that arrive.
“She has been there every day through the COVID and all,” said Earp. Changes in service because of COVID put more serving tasks on the volunteers and Weir stepped up to each challenge. To manage social distancing, guests had to be served individually. Volunteers were required to bring each plate and beverage to and from, more like wait staff without the tips.
“She is always cheerful. The clients in the dining room love her, Earp said. “She is an all-around great volunteer.”
“I had been eating at the senior dining room and I would get up to help (other volunteers),” Weir said. Soon they asked her to become a regular volunteer.
“I like all those people and I didn’t have anything else to do,” she said. “I have met people that I would never meet otherwise. I’ve made friends and learned a lot about the Senior Center.”
In such a small community, the Pine Mall is a treasure for all and offers a lot to those who have discovered it.
“They offer wonderful meals for a minimal amount, companionship, friendship, fellowship, and more,” said Weir. “I love the thrift store.
While sorting donated items, Weir had some suggestions.
“Make sure that anything you bring is something you would use yourself. It needs to be working, clean and usable.”
“And delivered before 3 p.m.,” added Earp.
Anyone over the age of 50 can join the SCAF for a membership fee of $10 per year. That opens the door of the senior dining hall for $5 per meal and the option of Meals on Wheels for those unable to leave home. Other bonuses include Bingo (to resume in the summer) exercise classes, yoga, and more.
To see a menu, look for activities or other information go to www.thepinemall.org. If you would like to stop in for lunch, new folks and guests always welcome with a reservation 24 hours in advance, call 928-476-2151.
You can also volunteer, no age requirements.
“It’s a good group of people to work with,” said Earp. “We could not accomplish the things we accomplish without our volunteers. It is fascinating what the volunteers do. It is a miracle we can get so much done.”
“It is such a team effort,” added Weir. I think that people don’t really realize how much the Senior Center does for the community and they should come in and find out.”
Lifelong hobby equates to cash for Mountain Village Foundation
Linda Botsko has been crocheting since she was just 5 years old. While I wouldn’t dare say how long ago that was, I will say that skill now benefits people here in Pine-Strawberry.
She has her own business, “Linda’s Unique Treasures” on Highway 87 in Strawberry. An eclectic selection of antiques, garden items and upcycled memories just waiting to be a treasure to someone new.
As shoppers tour her shop, they find her crocheted items in colorful patterns. She has baby sweaters and blankets, scarves, hats, market bags, scrubbies, dishcloths, hot pads, pot holders and more.
Here’s the trick, for every crocheted item purchased, 100% of the money goes to the Mountain Village Foundation (MVF) — a Pine-Strawberry nonprofit that recently provided Christmas to children in Pine-Strawberry in need.
This is her fourth year donating to MVF, and each year the number has increased. She donated $1,600 in 2021.
“(Crocheting) helped pay a lot of bills over the years. I was a single mom so that helped,” Botsko said. Which may be a part of why MVF was appealing to her.
“(MVF) was able to tell me exactly where the money was going,” said Botsko. “It makes me feel good.”
Small items like a scrubby (also the most popular) take Botsko 6 or 7 minutes and a larger item like a market bag may take up to 3 hours, but it is time spent giving back to her community.
Botsko will take special orders as long as she can find the yarn.
Linda’s Unique Treasures is open on Friday and Saturday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. during the winter.