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Time to give: North Bend's Harold Erland is Snoqualmie Valley's best volunteer
Harold Erland could be the Valley’s most visible volunteer. Active with the Kiwanis, Salvation Army and Upper Snoqualmie Valley Elk Management Group, he can be found year-round furthering understanding of the local environment for animals and people.
Nearly a lifelong Valley resident, Erland is a retired claims deparment manager for Puget Sound Energy. He’s also a trained wildlife biologist. Last week, he answered questions about his approach to volunteerism:
How many groups are you involved with?
Five: The Snoqualmie Valley Kiwanis for 27 years; the North Bend Community Church for all the time I have lived here; the Salvation Army for the past three years, besides ringing the bell for the past 26 years; the Valley Ministerial Association for the past two years; and I am the volunteer research biologist for the Upper Snoqualmie Valley Elk Management Group.
What was the first local group you volunteered for?
Probably doing stuff for the church when I was a boy.
What is your top volunteering priority at this time?
They are all different and important in their own right. Probably the most important and the hardest for me is doing emergency assistance for the Salvation Army and the Valley Ministerial Association out of the North Bend Community Church. We see so many people suffering as a result of the economy, and it is virtually impossible to provide the level of assistance that is needed to really make a difference in the distress of some of the people we see.
The second is probably my work with the elk, and how to plan for both the people and the elk and the other wildlife to have a place in our Valley. The elk are only a symptom of what is wrong with our environment. Along with the current research that I am doing, the education of the Valley residents is paramount to me concerning our environment and our elk. If I can involve youth in the research and show them the joy and rewards of working in the environment, maybe one or two of them will become scientists.
Do you have a philosophy?
I have been blessed and given much, it is my joy to give back. I have (time) to give and I enjoy what I do.
Do you ever make time for yourself?
Absolutely. I make time for the things I like to do and time with my wife and family.
How can locals make a start or get more involved?
There are lots of things that need to be done. Kiwanis is a hands-on organization that primarily helps children but will help anyone, just as an example. All organizations can use more volunteers. I’ve never heard anyone say they have too much help.
What makes this a place worth volunteering for?
By and large, we are a friendly community. We look after each other and we try to help others like we would want to be helped.