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Why you should volunteer at Chimney Rock

By Helen Richardson
Special to The PREVIEW

Retirement. That wonderful time of no more heavy responsibilities, no more rush-hour traffic, no more stressed-out brain cells. It also can be a time when you start losing brain cells from lack of use. That doesn’t happen to Chimney Rock volunteers.

My husband, John, and I are beginning our 15th season as volunteers at the new national monument. We cannot imagine a retirement more rewarding than the time we have spent learning and growing while serving as volunteers.

John is in his second term as a member of the Chimney Rock Interpretive Association (CRIA) board of trustees, now as president. During the season, his primary role is tour guide. He spent several years on CRIA’s training committee.

I have edited  CRIA’s monthly newsletter for several years and recently became the website editor. I help with grant writing while also serving on the board. During the season, I happily serve as cabin host.

Both of us have enjoyed being part of the crew manning special programs, from Full Moon to Night Sky to the exciting Major Lunar standstill in 2004-2007. Life at Chimney Rock and the Native American Cultural Gathering are must-do activities for us each summer.

As we both celebrate achieving more than 4,000 volunteer hours with Chimney Rock, thus qualifying for President Barack Obama’s Lifetime Achievement Award, we continue our commitment to CRIA. We recognize that the challenge of helping CRIA meet its responsibilities is good for us in many ways. Most valuable are the friendships we have formed with fellow volunteers. These are people we care for and they have earned our deep respect. Every year, there is a crop of new volunteers who bring new experiences, talents and creativity to enrich an already thriving organization.

There are many avenues in which those talents can be shared in addition to leading tours, hosting in the visitor cabin or working on the maintenance team. Currently, we have a committee of mostly retired teachers who are developing new materials to enrich the experience of the hundreds of school children who enjoy free tours at Chimney Rock each year. Another committee is crafting CRIA’s two-day annual volunteer training. CRIA offers a great, in-depth training program to anyone interested in joining our amazing team of volunteers. You can join our team at any time by calling 731-7133.

This story was posted on April 24, 2014.