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
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
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
“There was a guy I used to work with
who retired; he had been a coach, a
PE teacher, and we were discussing
“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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
4) To support a cause you care
about, make a difference, and make
it a better community and a better
5) To feel good about yourself, feel
useful and have fun!