Washington Evening Journal

Fairfield Ledger   Mt. Pleasant News
Neighbors Growing Together | Jun 18, 2018
Washington’s volunteers

Kline gives generously of his time to his community

By David Hotle | Jul 19, 2017



It was after Don Kline had retired from the Iowa Department of Natural Resources that he was forced to get a day planner so he could keep all his appointments to volunteer for various groups straight.

Kline, a former DNR fisheries biologist, doesn’t remember how long he had been volunteering, thinking it began in high school in his hometown of Carlisle. He always remembers his parents volunteering and being part of the community. His first memory of volunteering during an Independence Day celebration. Kline said there was a large celebration and the organizers are always encouraging young people to volunteer. He said he had helped work in a carnival game booth.

“It just comes,” Kline said. “Someone comes to you and says they need something and you say that you can do it and I will help.”

He said there are always things that need to be done.

“In work I was doing things,” Kline said. “When you are working you don’t consider it volunteering when you are giving a talk to a group.”

He retired in August 2007. While planning his retirement, Kline said he had been sure to plan to donate many hours a week to help the community. As he began volunteering his time, he quickly found other groups calling and asking if he wished to volunteer to assist with other projects. Currently, he volunteers extensively with Main Street Washington and the Friends of Lake Darling. Kline worked at Lake Darling with the DNR and said he had an interest in the lake. He volunteered to help as the park was renewed, when the friends found the money to build the four-seasons lodge and then later when money was raised to build four-seasons cabins.

“You don’t want to just sit around and do nothing, so if someone asks you to do something, you probably say yes if you think you are capable,” Kline said.

Kline said the year before he retired, Main Street Washington was being set up. He got involved with the organization to help it get going. After his retirement, in 2008, Main Street Washington opened its doors. Kline is now known as the person who made the giant broom people pose with during Main Street SWEEPs.

As he was working around that time, Kline was approached by a woman in Columbus Junction to help with the Conservation Foundation Board. He has been on the board ever since. Kline has also volunteers to assist the Izaak Walton League with its yearly special needs fishing day.

He said he has done plenty of work with Main Street and the Washington Chamber of Commerce during special events.

While Kline said he didn’t participate much when RAGBRAI stayed overnight in Washington in 2016, he worked extensively when RAGBRAI had come to Washington in 2000. Kline was chair of the non-food booth groups on the square. His job was to help set up booths and tents with vendors who weren’t preparing food, and making sure they had enough power as well as other necessities.

Feeling his volunteerism is slowing down, Kline encourages younger people to get out and volunteer to help in the community.

“I’ve noticed in Main Street some younger people like shop owners are starting to get involved in the committees,” Kline said. “They are getting involved and they are going to need to because pretty quick the older people are either going to be gone or not physically able to.”

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