30-year senior volunteer honored

June 22, 2010

By Chantelle Lusebrink

Nancy Viney, Sylvia Hooker, Val Borman and Margaret Eavenson (from left) bring their yarn projects every week to the Happy Hookers meeting at the Issaquah Valley Senior Center. By Greg Farrar

Even before she officially qualified as a senior, Val Borman, 93, had been volunteering her time to make the Issaquah Valley Senior Center a better place for seniors.

“We were on our morning walk and were going by,” Val said of herself and her husband Jake Borman. “He said, ‘I hear they have a really great coffee, drip coffee for 10 cents a cup’ I said, ‘I’m not going in there, no way.’”

It just took one cup of coffee with her husband in 1981 to pull her into the center, said Tommie Troutman, former director of the senior center.

If you name it, Val’s done it, she added.

So much so, that she was given a special award for 30 years of service at the 2010 Volunteer Recognition Lunch hosted by senior center officials April 24. She was honored by Troutman, the founding director of the center; Nedra Foshee, a former director; and current Executive Director Courtney Jaren.

“She is an absolute treasure,” Jaren said. “We’ve come to depend on her, because she has so much to share.”

The senior center is vital to the community, it gives people a place to gather, to celebrate, to feel supported and to stay active, Val said.The Bormans became involved with the senior center after Jake retired from Darigold as its local deliveryman for 33 years. Since Jake grew up in Issaquah, he’d recruit other friends to come in, specifically men, who at that time didn’t often use the center as a place to gather.

“It started off as just volunteering,” Val said. “It progressed from there to whenever they needed a volunteer, I came in. Whatever they needed done, I did it. Fundraising with the first pancake breakfast; Salmon Days; I was in charge of bake sales; and if someone was at lunch, I’d sit at the desk and answer phones, too.”

From there, she took over helping coordinate and recruit other volunteers; helped the senior center move locations when the old library was left vacant; created new programming opportunities and field trips; was given an extra key to the center and administrative authority in case of emergencies; helped coordinate lunches; and even served on the center’s board of directors for nearly a decade.

In fact, the three directors of the center said Val knows so much about the community and the center, that the phrase “Let’s ask Val” is often used.

“She fit so well within our community, it seemed like she was born here,” Troutman said. “She is a source for people with questions and she is a friendly face here.”

Val said she wasn’t always a natural.

Troutman “helped me find a lot of confidence in myself and a lot of skills I didn’t know I had,” she said.

The two became fast friends and have remained so to this day.

In addition to being a dedicated volunteer, Val said she also enjoys the senior center herself and helped form the popular Happy Hookers knitting club that meets every Thursday.

In their 57 years of marriage – resulting in three children, seven grandchildren and 12 great-grandchildren – 14 years were spent in dedicated service to the center. When Jake died in 1995, her ties to the center only became stronger, Val said.

“I came back because they are all the support group I need,” she said. “We’re one big family.”

To this day, Val is still at the senior center Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays and each day you’ll find a smile on her face and her happily helping others, Jaren said.

As one of their former patrons used to say, “‘You never know when you turn the handle on the door who is on the other side, but you know whoever it is, they’ll be glad to see you,’” Troutman said. “That is what we wanted to create here. Val has helped make that possible.”

Chantelle Lusebrink: 392-6434, ext. 241, or clusebrink@isspress.com. Comment at www.issaquahpress.com.

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