Paying it Forward: Shane Gardner

Volunteer of the WeekShaneName: Shane Gardner

Current employer or place of business: Evergreen Public Schools

Organization(s) I volunteer with: The Rotary Club of Vancouver, Leadership Clark County, Wildwood Neighborhood Association, Daybreak Youth Services, the PREVENT! Coalition of Clark County, CMAC, CIEE, and VANtalks.

How I got involved: I was searching for solutions to the substance abuse issues our community faces.  When I realized law enforcement couldn’t arrest its way out of the problem, I joined the Substance Abuse Advisory Board of Clark County.

Why I give back: I am involved because I care. I feel like I have received far more than I have ever given. It’s empowering to be involved and understand better how our neighborhoods, community and world work. When I joined the Army, I hadn’t even traveled through 10 percent of the United States. I didn’t truly know how great and diverse and resilient this nation was – and I still don’t – but I am learning, one introduction at a time. You can only meet so many people over your fence; you have to leave your home to meet the rest and people, each with their own story, are what make this nation great!

Proudest moment as a volunteer: This will be too long but:

One of my fondest memories happened on Labor Day in 2007 at the Hands Across the Bridge event. A young woman in recovery was giving her testimony, sharing how she had been an addict for years and made the decision to get help when the police served a search warrant on her house that led to her arrest and imprisonment, which resulted in her son being taken away. After getting out of prison, this woman got a job, fought for custody of her son, and began schooling. She had completed her bachelor’s degree and was working on her master’s degree. (Last I knew she had obtained her master’s degree and had begun working on her Ph.D.)

On this morning, after sharing her story she was supposed to turn to me (representing law enforcement) and say, “Thanks to the intervention of law enforcement in my life, I am clean today.” At which point I was to join her at the podium to show that we care about the people we investigate and the community these illicit substances affect. What she didn’t know was I had convinced the detective who had written the warrant on her home to attend with me, and when she said the above line, he stepped out from behind me and walked towards her. It was the first time either had seen the other since that day, and both cried and hugged.

I was happy to be able to give my partner proof that his work mattered and show him it resulted in a happy whole family, and thrilled to be able to let her thank the actual detective who gave her the push she needed.

What local challenge or issue are you most passionate about? Mentoring youth. Even my own children need other adult role models – I’m just ‘dad’ to them. If everyone made it a point to seek out a young man or woman to mentor, the fabric of our community would be stitched much tighter.

Just for fun: What are your hidden talents? Drafting fantasy football teams that dominate through the regular season only to lose in the first round of playoffs.

“Paying it Forward: Volunteer Businessperson of the Week” is sponsored by Pacific Continental Bank.