Washington Evening Journal

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Neighbors Growing Together | May 25, 2018
Washington’s volunteers

Volunteering for a different kind of job

Jul 14, 2017

When the word “volunteer” is mentioned, the first thought that might enter your mind is giving up some of your time to help others. Sometimes the end result of that volunteer work is something permanent; sometimes it’s much smaller. That’s the case for Lee Buchholz of Washington and what he does to volunteer.

Lee takes time to celebrate our country’s freedom by singing the national anthem at many of the home events for Washington High School sports teams.

“I consider it an honor,” he says. “I hope it does something to raise our awareness of what people in the past have done for us.

“I came across an article recently about some of what we don’t know about the battle at Fort McHenry. Francis Scott Key was on the ship when the captain told him about the upcoming battle.

“The captain wanted to send Key back on land because it wasn’t going to be safe for him. But with that information, Key asked to go and see the prisoners on the ship. Key informed the prisoners about what was coming and the prisoners responded that they wanted to know what was happening, which is now part of the song that we know.

“While the battle was going on, the British wanted to destroy the flag, which in turn, injured and killed many soldiers trying to protect it.

“When I think about that while I’m singing, it’s overwhelming. So I’m willing to do it whenever they want me.”

Buchholz says there’s more to hearing the words, that just the tune.

“I’m open to do it. To me, it’s something to be sung, it’s not just a tune to listen to. That’s why I pushed to have it vocalized. Many people in the community have commented that they like it that way.

As for when he started, Buchholz doesn’t remember.

“Who started it? I don’t really know,” he says. “I know many years ago when the high school was in the old building, they had people from the community come in and sing for basketball games.

“I think it’s a great thing. I think we should have students singing it also. Having taught elementary music for many years, it was always fun to teach the background of “The Star-Spangled Banner.” I think the more you know about it, the more you appreciate it.”

Right now, Buchholz only sings at some of the spring and summer sports games.

“When it gets football time, it gets into the band playing. I would be glad to sing along with them as far as that’s concerned, but that’s never come up.”

While volunteering to sing at games has only been happening the last couple of years, Buchholz has been a volunteer in the past.

“I’ve had people at my house during RAGBRAI; I’ve handed out drinks to people at events. But the most fun thing was when there was an energy conference in Washington.

“My job was to haul people back and forth from the casino. I had three people from Idaho in the car during that. The questions they asked were so interesting. And they were so interested in all the farming.

“I took them around to meet with farmers and I even took them by Amish farms in the Kalona area, which they enjoyed. I learned from them and about what they harvest. It was interesting.”

Buchholz has also worked with Habitat for Humanity in the past.

“I was president for Habitat for eight years. We had a terrific group here. Everything we did was volunteer. It was wonderful to see the end result of all that work.”

While today’s society is becoming busier, Buchholz says it’s still important to take the time to volunteer.

“Not only are you helping, but you are developing yourself. You have more at stake if you are helping in doing something rather that watching someone else do it. I’ve had many friends tell me they are afraid to retire and wonder what they will do.

“I always tell them, ‘there are tons of places you can volunteer. You will have no problems having something to do if you look around.’

“If you volunteer here or there, people find out you do that and so you get requests for your time.”

As for Buchholz and volunteering, what does he get out of it?

“If I have done a good job, I feel very good,” he says. “At a ballgame, if someone says ‘thank you,’ that’s a reward in itself. I don’t do it for pay, I do it to help others.”

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