Linda Urbaniak loves to talk, so it comes as no surprise that as a volunteer, she has drawn on her considerable talents in engaging others one-on-one.
She describes many different volunteer jobs she has held throughout her life, going all the way back to when she was a young military wife and volunteered with the Navy Relief Society for almost 10 years. Later, when she had children, she saw opportunities for involvement in the schools with the PTA, with taking on the responsibilities of a room parent, and in running bake sales and paper drives.
Adhering to a long-held belief that there is no way one can be isolated if reaching out to others, Linda has always lived her convictions.
She volunteered through Solid Ground’s RSVP for the Meals on Wheels program for a number of years and would seldom, if ever, change her scheduled volunteer time in order to do something else – the job was that important to her. She is emphatic that Meals on Wheels is one of the most significant programs available, not just because of the enjoyable, nutritious meals, but just as importantly because of the companionship it brings to those who receive the meals. Over the years she has become friends with the elders she served and has found them a source of inspiration in her own life, deeply admiring them for their ability to deal with the trying circumstances they come face-to-face with on a daily basis.
Helping others to rely on themselves and their talents as they came to realize that almost anything was possible was an unexpected outcome of her volunteer experience at the Union Gospel Mission. Starting out by flipping eggs in the kitchen, Linda soon moved on to tutoring women who wanted to improve their writing skills and found that this was her niche, since she enjoyed writing and had considerable talent in this area. She was especially touched recently by one young woman who wrote her a special poem of gratitude, letting her know how much she had helped her not only with her writing, but with life skills as well.
Why is volunteering important to her? Linda says, “I have had it all and done it all in my life. I have been enormously blessed. Someone once said, ‘Volunteering is the rent you pay for your time on earth.’ That sounds like more than a fair deal to me.”
Being a docent for 13 years at the Bellevue Botanical Garden, Linda was able to share her passion for gardening and being with people by greeting visitors and giving garden tours. She also puts to use her years of gardening expertise through The Garden Lady column she writes for the RSVP Experience in Action newsletter.
Actively participating in RSVP’s Ambassador team is yet another way that Linda shows she is giving back to her community and reaching out to others. You will find her in her element at senior fair events, talking with people about the benefits of joining RSVP and the great experiences she has had volunteering.