Nellie Gordon, left, and Jackie Freet prepare to receive people at the Community Caregiving Network’s emergency services program Friday at the Church of Good Shepherd. Gordon and Freet have been volunteering in various community activities since 1969. Jessica Keller, the Mirror

Citizens of the month: Gordon, Freet put off retirement in favor of volunteer work

Between the two of them, Nellie Gordon and Jackie Freet have accumulated 96 years of volunteer service together, and at 89 and 90, respectively, the long-time friends will volunteer until they no longer can.

Freet, of northeast Tacoma, and Gordon, of Federal Way, are currently volunteers for the Federal Way Community Caregiving Network Emergency Services Program every Friday morning at the Church of the Good Shepherd. They started, however, in 1969 as volunteers in Adelaide Elementary School’s library, where they met.

Freet said, at the time, she was a retired nurse who was raising three boys with her husband, but she wanted something to do to occupy her. Freet said, in 1969, Adelaide Elementary School only had half-time librarians and relied on volunteers to provide services for the rest of the week.

“We did almost anything except teach,” Freet said.

Later, the pair went on to volunteer for the Federal Way Library Arts Commission, a group that promoted the library at the time. When the library burned down, Freet said, she remembers collecting donated books and then having a book sale to raise money for the library for those that could not be used by the library.

From libraries, Freet and Gordon met up again as volunteers for Centerstage Theatre, either working in the box office or showing people to their seats. While Freet no longer volunteers there, Gordon does upon occasion.

A number of years ago, however, Freet got involved with the Federal Way Community Caregiving Network after somebody talked her into joining and taking over some administrative duties. She said, at the time, the network, which provides certain services, such as gas vouchers and money to help people stay in their homes, was conducted by phone, where people in need of help were assigned volunteers. Later, FWCCN found space to conduct its emergency services program in portable buildings at Good Shepherd. Freet then called Gordon to become a volunteer, as well.

“I dragged her into a couple of things,” Freet said.

In addition to FWCCN, Gordon is still active at Calvary Lutheran Church, working in the library and for the sack lunch program. Freet, however, has limited her activities to the FWCCN, serving as a record keeper.

“I do a lot of hours at home, which is part of the reason I don’t do anything else,” Freet said.

Both don’t plan on giving up their volunteer work any time soon.

“I like to keep busy, and I like helping people, taking care of people,” Gordon said. “It’s so nice when someone comes up and gives you a hug. It makes it worthwhile.”

Freet, however, said she enjoys learning about the other people she meets and helps through the FWCCN.

“It’s interesting in a social aspect — what you see, what you hear,” she said. “You see all kinds (of people). It gives you a real broad view.”

“But it makes you feel so good when you can help,” Gordon interjected, and Freet agreed.

Both Gordon and Freet said volunteer work is not only something that gets them out of the house at this time in their lives, it also gives them a different purpose.

“My husband says you retire to something, not from something,” Freet said.

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