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You are here: Home Resources E-Newsletter Archive Winter 2010, Issue VIII Volunteer Spectacular: Brent Stuart

Volunteer Spectacular: Brent Stuart

Julie Adams spends a morning learning more about one of our favorite volunteers, Brent Stuart. Brent is the 2010 recipient of the Stan Crow Service Award.

By Julie Adams

“Baaaahhhh!” responds Brent in answer to the pleating call from the young goats. “I’m coming to feed you”. We slunk down the grassy slope toward the goat’s pen, pausing only to see if we can spot any activity in the beehive –the newest members to the Songaia garden.  With two full grown children out and living their lives, Brent has turned his nurturing toward community, raising and breeding goats, tending to a multitude of maintenance to do’s , and recently introduced a hive of bees to the Songaia co-housing community, his home since 2006. 

Brent sounded flattered when I asked him for some time to talk and hear his story for the upcoming enewsletter. He agreed and then in traditional Brent form, asked if I would help him with a project at the same time. It’s so Brent-like, always gathering resources to aid in getting things done. Happy to help and feeling lucky to be able to spend time with one of my favorite people, I met Brent in the common house kitchen where he was finishing up with his second haircut of the morning. Haircutting being just one of his many talents to share.

Brent’s mother was the eldest of 3 and a nurse, when he was growing up, she would travel to the houses of the many family members. Kids in tow, she brought her special set of talents and checked on the health of the family. Taking blood-pressure, helping to understand medications, setting out prescription dosages, and being an ear to whatever needed to be heard. Over time, Brent and his siblings, as an extension of her arms, would begin to help out with various household chores while his mother tended to their physical health. He had some of the neatest experiences and most vivid memories being a young boy helping aunts and uncles with whatever they needed. 

He explains that this helping out was not what his mother said or told him to do so much as it was the just way things were done. At church on Sundays, the message was reiterated to young ears to always step up, if you were able, and help. As he grew, Brent began to feel like each instance of service was an amazing opportunity, being at just the right place, at the right time, a gift from the universe to be there and able to help.

His Relationship with Journeys began in 2004 when he retired from his work at Boeing as an Industrial Relations Consultant. Continuing with his values of service, rooted in his upbringing, he sought more opportunities to serve and he was put in touch with Stan Crow and began showing up to the Journey’s office ready to do whatever was needed for two full days a week.  At the end of each day, Stan would thank him, genuinely.  Looking into his eyes and speaking of his gratitude straight from his heart, each and every time. 

In 2006 when the Journeys office moved from Seattle to Songaia, he followed along, taking the bus up on Monday, he would sleep on Stan’s couch for a few nights and continue office work for a few days. Joining in many community activities and helping wherever he could, he began to feel a part of the Songaia community, and eventually was offered a position as an intern in the gardens. In exchange, he moved his trailer to the property and settled in as a member grateful for the opportunity to continue to be of service to Journeys and now Songaia.

Over the years, he continued to gain a deeper understanding of what it really means to him to be in service.  In retrospect, it has been like answering a call to be a part of something greater.  “Not everyone is supposed to be a great healer or leader or raise the dead. Some hear the inner calling to be of service in any way possible right here, wherever they are. When you engage yourself in something that is calling you, that is the service.” Brent says wide-eyed and grinning, looking totally satisfied. “You learn so much about yourself through your interactions with others.”

Brent speaks of his revelations with such passion, a natural mentor and teacher it’s as though he’s letting me in on the most important learning of his life, which I imagine, is not far from the truth. “It’s a way to live in love, in the moment and stepping out of yourself, to be fully engaged in the world. I love that each experience is not canned, pre-packaged –it’s an original experience. It’s about the life process and how do I fit into it?”

He explains that it is not always easy to volunteer, many times it feels burdensome, inconvenient and gets in the way of a football game or reading his novel and not like every volunteer experience is some big “ah, ha!” moment. Choosing to be of service is just that, a choice to stop, and seize life fully in a way that is not all about you. And the rewards, well, to experience yourself in fullness and depth. Those are the experiences you carry with you forever.

Several hours later, after the bustling loop around Songaia in the crisp December air, tending to several small tasks with Brent, I make my way back to my car. I feel wealthy, now after hearing his story. The small price to pay in labor, does not feel like a cost at all. In exchange for lifting a few things, I got to spend time with an amazing Mentor and help him tell about his life’s purpose. So, this is what it feels like to give . . . I think I got the best part of this bargain.

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