Central City Concern’s Martha Washington Building has so many amazing things happening that we couldn’t quite cover everything during April’s National Volunteer Week blog series. That’s why this month we wanted to highlight the tremendous work of Reese Matye in May’s Volunteer Spotlight. Having spent several decades serving our country, Reese has found himself right at home with the Martha’s diverse residential population!
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name Reese. Middle initial M as in mother. Last name Matye.
Position: I am one of the volunteers at the Martha Washington, that’s about all I know it as.
What led you to volunteer at Central City Concern initially?
I have a background in working with veterans. I’m a disabled veteran myself and I’ve done a variety of programs with veterans and mental health designed programs. I have a master’s degree from the University of Oregon in counseling. I’ve taught at Mt. Hood Community College and Clackamas Community College on family living, communications, and stuff like that. So it’s kind of an extension of all of those type of experiences.
What kind of projects have you participated in at the Martha Washington?
Well, I started with Dale and we did a billiards night every other Wednesday and that was a nice introduction. I got to meet people and just talk with them so they knew who I was and had a chance to get to know folks, get to know the Martha, and certainly get to know Dale.
What keeps you volunteering at the Martha Washington?
Well, I like the people, I like the population. I was a recruiter for Upward Bound in graduate school and I enjoy [population] at the Martha where people have been derailed due to mental illness or drugs. I saw that in Upward Bound as well, in that same general age group in some instances, sometimes a little bit older.
I love to provide skills to people: skills so that they’ll learn, skills so that they’ll grow. And it’s always, especially at the Martha, how do you want to say, an exercise in self-discovery. If people want to do something, let’s figure out how we’re going to get there so you can do it.
What’s your driving force to volunteer?
Well, I have had the opportunity to have a wonderful life and to have people who cared about me and gave me guidance and gave me the opportunity to excel. I want to provide that same approach to people who may not be able to recognize options or different approaches. That’s very important to me.
Reese, do you have a favorite story or interaction from your time at the Martha that you can tell me about?
Providing information to people about the Buffalo Soldiers with my co-partner in crime there (Michael “Chappie” Grice) who spoke about the Tuskegee Airmen. Right after my master’s program was completed I went on active duty with the Air Force and I mustered out, or was discharged, as a Captain. And what I did was affirmative action work and that’s where the piece of the Buffalo Soldiers came in.
I love to give information to others to help enrich their life. And I think the seminar or talk was perhaps the highlight of my experience at the Martha.
I also enjoy talking to Lady. Lady, of course, is the golden retriever. Admittedly, it was somewhat of a one-sided conversation. But Lady smiled appropriately
when I spoke to her and I gathered a crowd and we all had the opportunity to give and take and enjoyed one another and it was a group process. Just
talking with people.
Lastly, is there anything you would like to say about your time as a volunteer or any parting words?
Sure. I think it’s a very diverse population at Central City Concern and I see professional staff members and it’s fun to interact with them. I enjoy my time just sharing ideas and just enjoy the volunteer atmosphere. There’s an old saying, you know “love what you do and the money will follow.” And that’s basically what I’ve done in my life.