Skip to main content

August Volunteer of the Month: Gary Ashby

Gary Ashby outside Blakely Hall

When my family moved to Issaquah Highlands almost eight years ago, I could see right away it was a unique place.

People talked about community clubs and activities, hiking the trails around the community, playing different pick-up games at the various parks, and participating in upcoming events like Highlands Day. The “big talk” was the soon-to-be constructed retail sites, collectively called Grand Ridge Plaza. Construction of the movie theater would start in a few months. I found running to be a popular activity and quickly discovered some courses to run myself. Coming from Denver, I found what I had heard when I was looking for a Seattle area home was true: “Issaquah Highlands is a great place to live, work and play.”

Gary Ashby Highlands Day 2019

Gary, second from right, presents the 2019 Volunteer of the Year award to Aline Bloch (third from the right) on stage at last year’s GAME ON! Highlands Day. Photo by Julie Clegg.

I wanted to be a bigger participant in this community, so I started reading up on all that was available here in Connections. Connections had several activities highlighted and even provided information on how to volunteer. One opportunity that looked especially interesting was volunteering at Highlands Day. I reached out to Christy Garrard, executive director at Highlands Council, and received my first volunteer assignment: I was tasked to set up canopies, tables, and chairs on the event venue the day before the festival. I actually had a great time and met several other volunteers. These volunteers emboldened the human spirit and wanted to leave this community a better place.

Volunteering has connected me with others in the community, helped me develop better self-confidence, improved my mind, body, and soul, and gave me a sense of purpose, motivation, and accomplishment. Volunteering helped me develop gratitude, as well as tolerance and compassion for others.

I have really enjoyed all the volunteer opportunities I have had over these last several years. I have now volunteered for several Highlands Day events, bingo nights, and other activities. Most recently, I serve as a member of the Highlands Council Board of Trustees where I work on community transportation issues, a community foundation, and efforts to make sure everyone in our community feels included and valued.

What I have enjoyed most about volunteering in the community is the chance to share my talents and experiences with others. Sharing this small piece of me means I can have a positive impact on my community (if only in a small way) for years to come.

Whenever we volunteer, we share ourselves with the community and develop a community we can be proud of. We become invested in this community and that in turn makes the community even better. You can also enrich your life and improve your community if you volunteer. It is very much worth the time and energy.

Photos: (Top) Gary wears his Issaquah Highlands “Stronger Together” shirt outside of Blakely Hall. Photo by Robert Milligan.

As published in August 2020 Connections >>