Caring for community: Rosemary Smith, Volunteer of the Year

February 2016 Posted in People
Mount Angel Volunteer Award recipient Rosemary Smith

Mount Angel Volunteer Award recipient Rosemary Smith

By Kristine Thomas

Mount Angel resident Rosemary Smith has a reputation. She’s known as a woman who can be counted on to help out whenever and wherever.

The Mount Angel Chamber of Commerce has chosen Rosemary Smith 2015 Volunteer of the Year.

A humble woman, Smith does what she can to benefit her community. She has served 32 years as a volunteer with Meals on Wheels. She was a volunteer with Mission Benedict and St. Joseph Shelter, assisting with the assembling of food baskets and cooking. And she volunteered for many years at St. Mary Parish, helping with funeral luncheons, cleaning the church and at St. Ann’s bake sales for many years.

On Feb. 6, she celebrated her 88th birthday with family and friends. She raved about the effort her daughter Gina and her husband Don Robinson gave to make her birthday such a festive and memorable event.

What she enjoys the most about volunteering for Meals on Wheels is visiting with guests and reminiscing.

“I grew up in Nebraska but we had to leave and move to Oregon in 1940,” Smith said. “I was 13 years old. We moved because of the drought and the poor times.”

There were 10 children in her family, with all but the two oldest moving West. Her mother died in childbirth at the age of 35. “I have so much respect for my dad who was the best father and mother,” she said. “He worked hard to take care of all of us.”

She recalls her father, Henry Schaecher, working for 35 cents an hour picking berries and hops. He also worked at a flax plant near Mount Angel. When she was 16, she had to leave high school in order to take care of the house and the younger children.

“Not everyone who graduated from high school could make a banana cream pie as good I could,” she said, smiling.

She was married to Artie Hassler for 37 years. Their children are Kathy Kassel; Gina Robinson, and the late John Hassler. She was a widow for seven years before marrying the now late Al Smith.

“When I lost Artie, I started volunteering at Mission Benedict,” Smith said. “And then I migrated to the senior center. Volunteering gave me something to do with my time.”

Volunteering was also her way of showing she cared about the people in her community. “There are a lot of people who need some lifting up and shown some compassion,” she said.

On Tuesdays and Thursdays, Smith can be found at the Mount Angel Senior Center helping to prepare meals for Meals on Wheels. “I enjoy talking with the people who come here for a meal,” she said. “We have some interesting conversations talking about our past history. Plus I get to get to see what the rest of the world is doing.”

She invited seniors to have a meal at the center. “Everyone is welcome to enjoy a lunch,” she said. “Lunch costs $3.50 and having lunch together gives seniors a chance to visit with one another.”

Ginger Bork-Allen is the Meals on Wheels site coordinator. “Rosemary is great to work with,” Bork-Allen said. “She has a great family. She appreciates what life has given her and believes everyone’s life has a purpose. She enjoys the work she does here and enjoys visiting with the customers.”

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