York says service is a gift from God
Michael York says that God is the one who has given him talents and it is a privilege for him to use his gifts to enhance the world. He said God has given him the gift of service and people are held accountable for their gifts.
Since the first of the year, York has been lending his talents to the Washington Chamber of Commerce. He said director Michelle Peiffer, upon seeing his gift of gab that is ever present at his booth in the Washington Farmers Market, suggested he come and volunteer to help at the chamber. He soon found himself working four-hour shifts at the chamber office.
“It is an excellent experience,” he said. “It really keeps you on your toes. You get to answer some questions and some you can’t answer, but we always have someone here who can. I thoroughly enjoy my days, and they are not all the same.”
During a Washington City Council meeting earlier this month, Mayor Sandra Johnson declared April 21–27 to be Volunteer Week.
York said that he has some time available and he enjoys meeting the public and visiting with people. He said that he had volunteered to run the sound and to teach Sunday school at his church for a long time. He said there is a nice atmosphere with the people who work in the chamber office. He says volunteering gives him a sense of fulfillment and self-worth. He also said the friendships that he has made are unbeatable.
“It feels almost like a family to me,” he said, of the chamber. “I think maybe they have adopted an old man.”
York, who has lived his entire life in Washington — sans two years in the military — said he knows quite a bit about the area. He works as a photographer, including a stint in 1965 with The Washington Evening Journal. During the years he has also worked a variety of jobs in a variety of places. He said that he does a little bit of everything. He said that he hasn’t done any photography for the Chamber.
“Not yet,” Dani Kane, assistant director, said with a smile. “He definitely has a talent.”
Sitting at the front desk isn’t the entire job description for York. He said many times he goes out into the public to do various jobs. He puts together welcome kits for new people in town. The last shift he volunteered for involved taking circulars about the coming Gallery Walk to businesses on the square. He said it took him quite a while to get even halfway around the square and some of the other volunteers had to help.
“Someone likes to talk,” he said with a chuckle. “Something like this is an informal thing where I can actually get better acquainted with the folks around the square.”
Kane said that volunteerism is vital at the chamber. She said a large part of the chamber’s duties involve tourism, and without volunteers the chamber wouldn’t be able to constantly man an office. She said 32 volunteers work at the office, leaving the front desk staffed about 75 percent of the time.
“I think volunteerism is the heart of a community,” she said.
Peiffer agreed that volunteerism is “instrumental” to the group’s work. She said without volunteers the organization couldn’t accomplish anything. She said the organization relies on volunteers to set the direction and the goals.
York said the most common questions he gets involve finding someone a place to live. He provides a list of landlords in the area. He also gets questions about places to eat and other opportunities the area has to offer.
“God has been so good to me,” he said. “The last few years have been kind of tough since McCleery’s closed, because I worked there, but God has been so good in other ways.”