Volunteers’ efforts provide necessary boost

Sharon Needham’s recent shopping list for a Saturday breakfast went something like this: 25 dozen eggs, three three-pound packages of sausage, two boxes of Krusteaz pancake mix, a few bottles of syrup, several jugs of milk and five different kinds of juice. Then there was some grated cheese, tortillas and fresh fruit picked up by another shopper.

The breakfast wasn’t for company at Needham’s home. It was for the volleyball teams of six schools participating in the Aug. 23-24 2013 Homer Jamboree. 

Fortunatefully, it wasn’t just Needham doing the work.

“There’s lots of people. Everybody helps out,” said Needham, whose daughter plays volleyball.  

Since there was a Saturday afternoon football game happening in Homer that weekend, the menu was adjusted to make sure everyone was fed.

“The athletic director (Mark Casseri) thought it would be nice to open breakfast up for the football players, so we ended up feeding about 40-50 more,” said Amber Cabana, whose daughter plays volleyball.

Long before volleyball teams gathered at the gym and football players faced off on the field, volunteers scrambled eggs and browned sausage, wrapped them in tortillas with cheese to make breakfast burritos, hooked up griddles in the school’s commons and began flipping pancakes. Breakfast was $5 each.

“The idea’s to make a little money with the profits for volleyball, but mostly it’s to provide a hot breakfast,” said Cabana. 

No food was wasted. 

“The coach came in an hour and a half after breakfast and said he had kids that were hungry and we said, ‘here,’” said Cabana, of keeping the football players fueled for the afternoon’s game.

Other leftovers were used the following weekend when the volleyball team traveled to a tournament in Cordova.

“Bonny Powell made some breakfast quiches for the girls, so it worked out really well,” said Needham of food packed in coolers to help cut down on the team’s travel expenses. 

At the risk of overusing Hillary Clinton’s “It takes a village to raise a child,” that’s exactly what it takes to keep Homer’s youngsters active. There are volunteers at admission gates, selling concessions and organizing raffles. They’re on the edge of the swimming pool, timing swimmers. They’re at the track, helping set up the course, waving runners across the finish line and cleaning up when a meet is finished. One sport ends, another begins and volunteers like Kathy Beachy shift gears.

Beachy’s son is currently running cross country. About the time that season ends he’ll begin basketball. Then in the spring there’s baseball. Multiply that times three since Beachy also has a son at Homer Middle School and another at McNeil Canyon Elementary School. 

“I love my kids to be active and I enjoy being part of the community, getting to know families as we raise our kids together,” said Beachy, who values “the character that develops, the physical training of their bodies and just being active and healthy” that sports provide.

Beachy has served as president of Homer Little League during the summer and is active with Homer High School’s Booster Club. Representing a specific activity, her attendance at monthly booster club meetings earns points towards the amount the activity will receive from the club’s fundraising efforts. 

An official nonprofit organization, the booster club helps cover the cost of keeping kids active, in addition to a per-activity fee students pay ranging from $100-$150.

Harmon Hall is one of the booster club’s directors. He also is the school’s dive coach and has a son on the dive team. Hall and Chris Perk coordinate the club’s raffles and pull tabs and are responsible for the accounting of funds raised. Hall has a good handle on the club’s fundraising efforts, which include banners around the gym and ball fields and the sale of sweatshirts, sweatpants and T-shirts. All that helps with the cost of uniforms, referees and travel.

“You’re there for one reason: the kids,” said Hall of his involvement.

“I’m there for them and there for anyone else that comes along.”

Anita Harry has been active with the booster club since it began in 1989. Her kids are grown, but she continues to volunteer “because I enjoy working with kids and enjoy the activities.” Harry manages the concession stand, making sure there’s product to sell and someone to do the selling. She also helps schedule activity buses. From her years of service, Harry said the very best fundraiser is what community members provide when they attend events. 

“The more people in the gym or at the football field, that’s the biggest community support of the programs,” said Harry.

“If you have that kind of support at events, it really makes a difference.”

Cabana volunteers because she enjoys “being supportive of the kids, watching them, being there, traveling with them.” 

“New parents don’t realize how much fundraising is important,” she said, noting specifically an annual pie and dessert auction benefiting the Mariner boys basketball team.

“We really encourage the public to come. It’s a lot of fun.”

The grocery shopping and cooking are just a small part of Needham’s support of activities for community youngsters. It’s one way she can spend time with her children, supporting them “in what they want to do in their lives, to get to know them better.”

To the rest of Homer, she said, “Come cheer for the teams.”

McKibben Jackinsky can be reached at mckibben.jackinsky@homernews.com.