In publication since 1991, Wrangler News is distributed free every other Saturday to more than 18,000 homes in the Kyrene Corridor area of South Tempe and West Chandler, and is supported by local and regional advertisers.

  Search past and present issues of the Wrangler
    Site search Web search                       
   powered by
Contact Us Links Media Kit Make a Payment Previous Issues

Back Home Forward

Military Vehicle Show

By: P.J. Standlee

January 8, 2008   

Just like a politician, retired Scottsdale school administrator Ira King keeps returning to the answer he always gives when people ask about his whirlwind schedule:

“I keep it up because I need to be involved.”

King, who in 1998 ended a long career as teacher, assistant principal, principal and, ultimately, assistant to the superintendent for human resources, had gotten bored shortly after retiring and had stayed that way for several years.

In fact, he says, he was going stir crazy. And that’s what launched him into a volunteer career that seems to be as hectic—sometimes even more so—as his years in education.

“I’m not someone to sit around the house and not do anything. Involvement is very important. I need to be active. There is something about feeling really alive when you are involved.”

It was a small epiphany that got him started.

“There was a guy I used to work with who retired; he had been a coach, a PE teacher, and we were discussing retirement.

“He said, ‘Ira, before you retire, think about the only thing you have to do after you retire is pull up your socks in the morning, and you don’t have to think about doing any more than that.’

“I’ll never forget that he mentioned that. His advice was good. I got to go, got to do.”

King, who had unexpectedly gone through a divorce and then remarried after retiring, began to find things to do, such as rebuilding his 1949 Dodge as a hobby, but he didn’t start his second career, his volunteering career, until 2003 when he met Mary Anna Bastin, coordinator of volunteer resources for the city of Tempe.

King visited an orientation on volunteering, which was being given by Bastin. Before the orientation was over, King decided to leave, and Bastin stopped him on the way out.

“I was leaving when Mary Anna stopped me and asked why I was leaving. I said that I thought that I wasn’t in the right place. People were less active,” said King.

“I suggested that he come talk to me,” said Bastin. “We found something that he was interested in. And he found that he really enjoyed it.”

King was a good example of someone who wanted to volunteer, but didn’t know where to start, she says.

“When he came in and met with me, I realized that he was a retired Scottsdale administrator. I thought, here is a very educated man struggling with what to do with himself in retirement and how to get connected,” Bastin said.

King, who had never volunteered before in his life, started out as a docent for Petersen House, then volunteered at the Tempe Historical Museum, which he said he particularly enjoyed because he could reconnect with children during school tours.

His enthusiasm for volunteering escaladed from there.

He became a volunteer committee member for the Tempe Library Advisory Board, then he joined the Tempe Police Citizens Review Board, in which he and others followed up on controversial police decisions and reported their findings to the chief of police.

King also devoted a great deal of his time to a committee called Connections at the Tempe Library, which was the planning committee that created the popular Connections Café inside the Tempe library.

King now serves his local neighborhood on the Tempe Neighborhood Advisory Commission, whose members are appointed by the mayor and advises the city council on the events and opinions from local residents.

Finally, King is a member of the Retired Senior Volunteer Program, or RSVP, in which he volunteers at hospitals and delivers meals.

“Before you retire you have friends and people you associate with, and they are your professional gang. When you retired you don’t have one. So when you retire, you create a new one, the gang of volunteers,” King said.

The credit, he added, goes to Bastin, who helped set him on the path of his career in volunteering.

“Marry Anna said that I need to find something fun to do, and I find volunteering is fun,” King said.

“He sets a really example because even though he is retired, he hasn’t retired from life. He cares a lot about his neighborhood,” Bastin said of King.

Knowing what you want to do isn’t always as easy as it sounds, which is why Bastin leads an orientation on how and why to volunteer every fall and spring. The next orientation will be held Jan. 23 at 10 a.m. at the Tempe Public Library, followed by a volunteer expo.

According to Bastin, more than 4,000 people from every walk of life volunteer annually through the city of Tempe, with the highest number appearing during youth programs in June and July.

Volunteers help the city stretch public resources and help support staff members to allow them to operate more efficiently.

There are a number of programs seeking volunteers, including: Tempe Public Library, Tempe Historical Museum, Youth Sports Coaching, Tempe Center for the Arts, and a new program called Experience Core, which trains volunteers to go out to the Tempe Public Schools to improve students reading scores.

The city is also seeking new volunteers for the Tempe Board of Commissions, in which volunteers are appointed by the mayor to advice the city on various technical or non-technical committees.

Some volunteer organizations use their volunteers in creative or unusual ways. For example, volunteers at the Pyle Adult Recreation Center help participate in a yearly special event called the Cinderella Affair, where members of the Needlewielders club gather used prom dresses and tailor them to the customers’ needs on the spot.

Volunteer with the Tempe police department, can dress up in an attack dog suite and help take a bite out of crime.

Or, volunteer with the Care 7 Crisis Response Team receive 30 hours of training to respond to traumatic events, such as suicide attempts, family deaths, or domestic abuse situations.

Volunteering means giving without the expectation of receiving anything in return, but Bastin gives five good reasons to volunteer:

1) To give back to one's community. We are blessed in the U.S. to have so much.
2) To stay involved or get involved in one's community; really be a part of it and learn what's going on.
3) To make new friends and learn new things.
4) To support a cause you care about, make a difference, and make it a better community and a better world.
5) To feel good about yourself, feel useful and have fun!


web site hit counter