If you asked Mary Sharon why she volunteers at Egan Warming Centers, the first thing she’d probably tell you is that she doesn’t volunteer; she serves at Egan. For her, it is an important distinction.
“I don’t see myself as a volunteer. I’m not a volunteer citizen, I’m not a volunteer community member, and I’m not a volunteer human being. I am fully in the game. I show up and participate,” she explains.
Mary Sharon’s connection with the Eugene area spans two decades, and for many of those years she would hear the call for Egan volunteers each winter. Finally, it clicked for her, and she felt personally called on to step up with Egan.
“I heard the PSA one winter and I realized, ‘Oh, you’re talking to me. You’re looking for people to serve at Egan. You’re talking to me.’”
Now, seven winters worth of activations later, Mary Sharon says she can’t not show up because the pull to serve is just too powerful.
“Each year, I don’t know how I’m going to do it and each year I do it along with many other people who show up and serve right along with me.”
Mary Sharon doesn’t shy away from admitting there are challenges that accompany serving at Egan. There are levels of inconvenience associated with any of the service roles needed during an activation, but as she puts it, that’s not the point.
“The point is, there’s an opportunity to step up and serve people who are in a world of hurt already.”
For Mary Sharon, the rewards of serving Egan include the feeling of being a full participant in the community she loves and seeing the real human importance and value in every shelter guest.
“These people have the opportunity to receive their authentic identity, their true identity which is beloved. A person who has a place to be and a right to be here.”