"Why I Volunteer"-an interview with Ruth Lane
Ruth Lane is a St. Johns resident and community volunteer. She serves on the Business Resource Committee with the St. Johns Center for Opportunity, as well as with other community organizations.
Why do you volunteer?
“I moved to St. Johns 10 years ago and it was very important for me to have a community where I felt like I was in a village. I could get to know people and form friendships and build a network of support, to find safe places that I could walk and get what I needed”.
Ruth explains, “For a community to thrive, the businesses need to be thriving, so I started volunteering with the Economic Restructuring Committee when I first found out about St. Johns Main Street back in 2010. I helped them apply for the money that Mayor Sam Adams was giving to the first 3 communities chosen to be a main street place and we won - I was thrilled. Now, I’m on the Business Resource Team. I simply visit a handful of businesses and see how they are doing, what they need and see how we can help, stay in touch. Having Carmen available from MESO (Micro Enterprise Services of Oregon) is wonderful because she really gets it right away when people tell their story". Read more about our MESO partnership here.
How have you seen the work of SJCO and your volunteer efforts impact the community?
When Ruth first moved to St. Johns, she saw many vacant storefronts in the downtown St. Johns area. Since that time, she has seen an increase in diverse businesses making their home in this community. She explained that “the businesses that are here are glad to be here and to call St. Johns their home, and having the Business Resource volunteers support them amplifies the feeling that St. Johns is a great place to be.”
As for the impact of the St. Johns Center for Opportunity, she explains that “for me, it’s about the community events, having events to gather together with people with a festival air. When SJCO did the Community Expo, that was such a godsend especially in the beginning of the winter for people to come together, have some snacks and see all the resources that are available. This neighborhood feels much more harmonious now. You have been a very harmonizing influence in this space, truly, and to me it all stems from Lindsay’s personality and the people that she chooses to work for SJCO. They are very collaborative and holistic and see the bigger picture and work on a face-to-face level with people. I totally admire this organization and I’m pleased to be a part of it”.
What is your hope for the future of SJCO and St. Johns?
“These are my hopes for the future: continuing to create places for people to gather and socialize because isolation kills. You’ve expanded your mission to jobs and housing. I hope all of those efforts succeed because they are all part of the fabric of a strong neighborhood. On the Business Resource team, I really want to see our businesses make a living while servicing the needs of the residents so that they don’t have to go elsewhere. To keep your stores thriving people have got to give them their business! My independent shop owners are important to me because they’re the people I see and I get to know them. I like walking into the shops and knowing the names of people and asking about them, as well as how business is. That is very enriching for me. It’s hard to put into words”.
As we gear up for the final days before the holidays, support your local merchants in St. Johns. You can also sign up to volunteer with St. Johns Center for Opportunity in a variety of volunteer roles or donate online today to support our work. Click here to donate now!