Sandy Cole is one board lady.

“I’m secretary of two organizations’ boards, and I like them both,” said Spring Valley resident Cole, who is a volunteer at the Fillmore County History Center (FCHC) in Fountain and also at Ostrander Care & Rehab (OCR) in Ostrander as a member of the OCR Family Council.

She’s kept busy taking notes for the organizations for the past several years, but she didn’t actually volunteer to be on either board in the first place.

From church to FCHC

She first joined the FCHC board of directors through her church acquaintance with John and Bernie Finke. Since then, she has assisted former FCHC director Jerry Henke and current director Debra Richardson.

“I’ve been a volunteer at the historical society for about 10 years. Shortly after I moved back here, Bernie Finke asked if I’d be interested in volunteering there. We were in church, and Bernie and John were in front of us. John and Bernie asked my son Phil if he’d be interested in being on the board, but he said he couldn’t because he had his farming to do. That’s when John pivoted, looked at me and said, ‘You will be our volunteer,’” she said.

“I loved it…I really liked it,” said Cole. “I got to do very interesting projects – one of the projects was data entry for Civil War veterans of Fillmore County, and when we were changing exhibits once, I got to carry the drum that was from the Spanish-American War. I couldn’t resist giving it a little tap-tap-tap. That stuff gives me a thrill…and there’s always odd things there, like the two-headed calf, and I had no idea this area used to grow tobacco. I like the museum’s sleigh, too. And I also did some transcribing of a lady’s diary once – she was 80 the same time the historical society turned 80, and that was something I could do from home during the winter. That was neat.”

Becoming a board member meant that she took on the duties of the recording secretary. She served six years on the board, working on the personnel committee with the chairman, which she said was really interesting because she got to see how different people felt about how the staff should be treated or compensated.

Presently, she’s serving only as a temporary recording secretary, having rounded out her two terms on the board and coming back to keep track of meetings until a permanent recording secretary can be found.

“I do my best…I feel I’m doing good filling in as secretary,” said Cole. “I enjoy the people, and it’s something I can do. There are some very nice, very smart people on that board.”

Friend suggests Ostrander

Cole joined the OCR Family Council at approximately the same time she became a volunteer at FCHC. One of her friends suggested she might like to be on the family council.

“Usually, it’s for families of residents, and I don’t have any there, but it’s been fun,” said Cole. “It meets once a week. We do fundraisers for things like automatic doors and spa rooms. We have two fundraisers a year – there’s a soup luncheon and a pie social – and it’s a group of about 10 or more women. Most have ties to people in the care center. Basically, we do what we can for the residents, like run a snack cart every two weeks, help pay for their Christmas presents, we took some on a field trip recently…and the council felt very strongly that the facility should have an up-to-date spa room – the owners bought the spa and we bought the room. We did a lot of fundraisers for that – the kitchen made pizzas for us to sell, we had a corned beef and cabbage dinner, and we sold cookbooks.”

Cole stated that the reason she returns to OCR because she likes the people there, and “also the fact that we’re doing something for the people to make their lives more pleasant…the residents love the snack cart. I like the staff there, too. They’re easy to work with, and I have made some good friends there. They invite us to their special events, like Easter brunch.

“And there are some older ladies on the council that I admire. When I first went on the council, there were two elderly ladies, Francis Gilbert and Pauline Thorson King, who were in charge. They were on the council until they couldn’t be, and I admired them. It’s hard to get to know people and watch them go, but the family council is a very pleasant way to spend an hour or two a month.”

Before becoming involved with either FCHC or OCR’s family council, Cole invested her time volunteering in and around Spring Valley. She worked at the food shelf, and did some other duties around town, such as volunteering to take tickets at Brave Community Theatre shows or working at Supper with Santa.

“I feel good about volunteering,” said Cole. “I was brought up being taught that the reason to live is to make somebody else’s life better.”