MARYSVILLE — Pat Olson never really retired.
When health issues forced her to quit working about six years ago, she traded Lake Stevens for Marysville and took up volunteering. Hardly a day goes by when Olson, 71, isn’t giving of her time — and soul — to help another person.
Her work is much appreciated.
“She has this wonderful heart for serving other people, and it shows,” said Jason Detmer, the corps assistant at the Salvation Army, where Olson helps with community projects.
On Wednesdays she greets guests and helps set up for a community fellowship meal served at the American Legion Hall.
“She is there no matter what: rain, sun, snow, all possible conditions,” Detmer said. Even after she hurt her foot, Olson didn’t miss an opportunity to be useful.
She also participates in a Salvation Army after-school program, helping kids with homework and playing games with them.
On other days, Olson works at Embracing Life, a resource center for mothers and children.
Volunteers there help the families get diapers and food, and connect them to other organizations providing services.
Then there’s the Ken Baxter Senior Community Center, which is just a few blocks away from the retirement community where Olson lives. And, occasionally, you’ll find her pitching in at the Stillaguamish Senior Center.
Last but not least, there’s the Senior Drama Group, where the members entertain at retirement centers with theater performances. Olson mostly takes care of administrative duties, but she loves being part of the troupe.
On a recent Tuesday afternoon, she wore a string of pearls over a red sweater, sipping coffee as she was trying to remember all the activities she is involved in.
“I try to squeeze in my grandchildren once in a while,” she joked.
Olson’s is a close-knit family. She raised her five sons and a daughter to be generous as well.
She taught her children to enjoy life to the fullest and be thankful for what they have, said her youngest son, Trent.
“The lesson to give sometimes isn’t as easy as it seems, but for her it’s just part of her well-being, and I am so blessed to call her mom,” he wrote in an e-mail.
A widow for more than 20 years, Olson has been busy with her big family. She also cared for her ill mother for some time.
One day, her mother was gone, and her children had grown up. Olson, a helper and giver by nature, had no one to take care of.
When health problems slowed her, she wasn’t ready to retire. Olson had worked for about 25 years at Everett General Hospital, which later merged with Providence Hospital, and went through several other jobs in the Lake Stevens area.
Olson said a close friend, who since has passed away, got her into volunteering after she moved to Marysville.
“She was my inspiration. I could never keep up with her,” Olson said.
She has met many incredible people through her work in the community. And amazingly, her health improved after she began to keep busy with community work.
She believes helping others should start close to home.
“We sometimes forget our own neighbors, if they are hungry, ill or just need a touch,” Olson said.
She makes a point to check on neighbors in her housing complex. She said she wishes retired people got out in the community more, if their health allows. They simply don’t realize how much they are missing, Olson said.
Katya Yefimova: 425-339-3452; firstname.lastname@example.org.