Helen Petersen and Laura (Lolly) Lindley have dedicated more than 13 years, and over 2,000 hours of service to Schoolhouse Supplies. To this dynamic duo of spunky seniors, “It’s just not Wednesday if we’re not at Schoolhouse Supplies.” It is this mentality and commitment that has single-handedly supported more than 11,500 teacher shopping trips; placed nearly 1 million pencils into the hands of students across Portland; stocked and sorted $6,800,000 worth of inventory in our Free Store for Teachers; and has subsequently upheld our mission of ensuring that every child has the tools they need to succeed for over a decade.
Despite being active volunteers in the Portland Metro area for as long as either can really remember, Helen and Lolly’s friendship didn’t start at a soup kitchen, nor a community garden, or even a classroom. Instead, it was through their shared passion of the game Bridge. A part of a club that meets two days a week, Helen and Lolly’s partnership was established and solidified pretty quick during the card game. It was during the intense card competition that the two learned of their other shared passion; basic classroom service. Both are keenly aware that the future success of their community depends on the success achieved in the classroom. As a result, Helen and Lolly have been helping shape the lives of students for nearly 50 years.
One day, while reading The Oregonian in 2001, they came across an article about a “Free Store for Teachers.” With their deep roots in education, the two friends knew that they needed to get involved and volunteer. To Hellen and Lolly, this new “Free Store for Teachers” was an opportunity to make an even greater impact in their community, and do more for its students. 13 years later, Helen describes, “To know that each pencil, or eraser I touch will go to a child that might otherwise do without—knowing that that student might feel a little more prepared or successful or be able to accomplish more—that’s what keeps me going.”
Now, we all know volunteering is a commitment. For most of us, it’s mainly a matter of balancing our free time. But for Helen and Lolly, this commitment extends beyond a mere few hours. To them, it’s what defines their friendship. During a time when Helen struggled to continue volunteering due to health complications, Lolly was there. She motivated and convinced her longtime friend to keep going. And after a brief absence, the two have been a steady force at Schoolhouse Supplies. Every action they take in our Free Store is about providing an excellent service to teachers. They exact their commitment through attention to the details, in their service, and a genuine caring and compassion for the people they serve. “Knowing that these teachers are coming in after a long day, and are in need of supplies,” explains Lolly, “we want to do all we can to make it a positive and enjoyable experience for them.”
If you’re ever in the Free Store after a Helen and Lolly volunteer shift, be sure to check out the spiral notebook section. We challenge you to find a store this side of the Mississippi that is as organized as those notebooks.