By RENEE FITE
When a need is identified in a community, it may go unmet without the willingness of a volunteer or group of volunteers.
Nicki Scott, a stay-at-home mom, had family needs that prompted the creation of a number of volunteer groups she supports. Scott volunteers for Cherokee Nation Head Start and Missionary Baptist Student Fellowship; she also hosts a local cloth diapering Facebook group, runs a cloth diaper lending program, and is the creator of the Wild West Fall Festival.
“I have two really fun kiddos. London is 7, and we call him ‘Red,’ because of his hair color, and Pepper is 2,” said Scott. “Both have developmental delays.”
Red has a sensory processing disorder and some symptoms that are comparable to Aspergers Syndrome, while Pepper has Downs Syndrome.
“The Wild West Fun Fest was geared to attract the broad spectrum of special needs and disabilities and to encourage the entire community to come play with our group and learn more about these wonderful people,” she said. “I sincerely hope it will become an annual event cherished by our community.”
A native of Tahlequah, Scott grew up at the Barnes Ranch in Moodys learned a lot about volunteering from the women in her family – including her mother, Patti Morton; grandmother, Myrtle Harlow; and aunt, Kathy Barnes.
“Mom volunteered at Help-In-Crisis when I was 11 or 12. I can remember her manning their help line. She has served in several local volunteer groups like Kiwanis and Leadership Tahlequah. My late grandmother, Myrtle Harlow, also enjoyed volunteering at the local food pantry and the Senior Citizens’ Center. My aunt, Kathy Barnes, and her late husband, Ray, were known to volunteer at benefit auctions,” she said.
The importance of being a volunteer is that some jobs will go undone unless someone steps in to do them, said Scott.
“Our society is fostering a sense of entitlement that grows worse with each generation. Our city, state, and our country would be so different if more people looked past themselves and tended to the needs of others,” Scott said. “For instance, what if our politicians were ‘just volunteers’ who served only for the honor of serving their country well?”
If people want to volunteer, they should find something they’re passionate about and plug in.
“Don’t wait on someone to ask you to get involved,” she said.
Willingness to go unnoticed and unpraised are important qualities in a volunteer, said Scott.
“Many times, a job well done is the reward. Volunteer jobs are usually hard ones and reserved for those who are willing to roll their sleeves up and work behind the scenes. I prefer to be in the background, and I am not very good at accepting praise,” she said.
She teaches Sunday school for the kindergarten and first-grade class at Landmark Missionary Baptist Church. Her husband, Justin, is the college minister at church. Together, they host a weekly gathering for college students that includes a hot meal, while Justin gives a Bible lesson. Once a month, she gives a cooking lesson to them.
“I love to cook, and I enjoy teaching young people the basics of cooking good food. I try to make dishes they can cook with one pan or in foil, because most don’t have a cabinet full of pots and pans,” she said. “I love hearing their cooking success stories when they try the recipes on their mom or to impress a date.”
Her husband works hard and provides for the family, and wants her to be free to stay home and care for the home and the children, Scott said. Now that their children are both in school, she has the opportunity to spend some time, “just being an extra set of hands where I am needed.”
“God has given me an unusual set of gifts that enable me to help in ways that maybe someone else couldn’t,” she said.
Scott said need prompted the creation of the groups she supports. Each group has its own reward.
“Seeing a college kid plug into a church on his or her own will and serve there is pretty special. Being there when they begin college and watching them figure out the path God has planned for them is exciting. We have made lifelong friendships with several of these students who have graduated and moved away,” Scott said.
Having successfully nursed a very weak baby and then exclusively using a breast-pump and feeding tube to feed her daughter empowered Scott to help other moms with breastfeeding issues.
“Those same moms are so helpful to each other and they are encouraging to me when I am down. It’s like we’re all in this motherhood thing together,” she said.
Helping at her daughter’s school, Cherokee Nation Head Start, gives Scott the chance to see what her day is like and witness her progress.
“I also like helping teachers who are investing so much in my child for little pay. They certainly do a labor of love and I like to show them my appreciation,” said Scott.
Scott has three groups she manages on the Internet, including a mother’s group, Poopsmiths Anonymous of Tahlequah, www.facebook.com/groups/225444660924829/; a cloth diaper lending program, www.facebook.com/PoofyPantsDiaperLendingProgram; My Friends and Me, the nonprofit group that put together the Wild West Fun Fest, www.facebook.com/MyFriendsandMeTahlequah; and the college ministry at Missionary Baptist Student Fellowship, www.facebook.com/pages/NSU-MBSF-Tahlequah-Oklahoma/403132818474.