The Wrack

The Wrack is the Wells Reserve blog, our collective logbook on the web.

Doing What I Can To Help

Posted by | February 11, 2021 | Filed under: Culture

Bruce Bjork puts a modest spin on his volunteer service. “It keeps me out of trouble,” he says. If keeping out of trouble is code for lending one’s considerable talents to lifting up people and organizations, including the Wells Reserve, then Bruce is great at keeping out of trouble. 

 

Bruce (left), with fellow volunteers Judy Spiller and John Lillibridge, take monthly measurements to track beach erosion and accretion as part of the Southern Maine Volunteer Beach Profiling Program. Photo by Dave Cleaveland (Maine Imaging).

In the six years that Bruce has been a volunteer at the Reserve, he has filled as many as 8 volunteer roles. In 2014, Bruce met Laudholm Trust President Nik Charov and has volunteered at every Craft Festival since. He detected marine invasive species as a MIMIC program volunteer, led school groups as a docent, posted event flyers, and supported the annual volunteer fair. His guitar playing livens the annual volunteer appreciation party. Bruce now serves on the Laudholm Trust Board, and is a Finance Committee member. “I’m motivated,” he says, “Because I’m retired and have the time to give back.” 

Bruce’s volunteer service is wide ranging, combining professional skills and lifelong passions, fueled by a desire for social connections and new experiences. 

I was in finance for 40 years and did a lot of traveling. It was pretty stressful and this is a chance to do something totally different, things that interest me. What am I gonna do if I’m not volunteering? 

On a winter afternoon, Bruce wears a bright blue mask with a white guitar graphic, made by his sister. Bruce grew up with music in the house. His grandparents and mother all played piano. An accomplished musician, Bruce himself plays several instruments — piano, banjo, guitar and pedal steel guitar.

My son is also a musician. When he was in high school, he was teaching himself how to play Led Zeppelin’s “Stairway to Heaven” on the guitar, and had the sheet music on our piano at home. My parents were visiting, and my mother had never heard the song before. She walked by the piano, looked at the music and said, “That’s a really pretty tune.” She sat down and played it. My son asked, “Grandma, how did you do that?” That was a big turning point for him, seeing his grandmother sit down and play “Stairway to Heaven” like that. 

Bruce (at right) shared music with others at "Art and Nature for Veterans" in 2018. The year-long program created time and space for Veterans to engage in art therapy activities.

Bruce chooses to volunteer in areas that have a strong personal connection for him. In the next few days, he’ll give on-line lessons as a volunteer music teacher for the Veterans Administration’s Guitars for Vets, an experience he describes as one of the most rewarding of his life. A Navy veteran himself, he’s taught 26 veterans through the program, at the end of which each receives a free guitar.

I’m doing what I can to help my comrades. Music therapy really helps the PTSD they’ve got. There is always something going through their minds. They can’t shut it down. They can’t sleep. Learning how to play a guitar, it’s hard. You have to really concentrate. When they practice, their minds clear up. It’s probably the most rewarding volunteer activity that I’ve been involved in. 

He grew up swimming and surfing on Long Island Sound and appreciates the beach. He stays connected and aware by serving on Beach Profiling and Piping Plover monitoring teams. And he’s concerned. 

Growing up on the water, over the years. I’ve seen a tremendous change. Even in the Long Island Sound. All the sandbars have changed. Massive sand dunes with trees [used to be there], and slowly but surely it’s all eroding.

One-half mile from the Wells’ home he shares with his wife Susan, is Moody Beach (he serves on the Board of the Moody Beach Association) where erosion can be a problem during strong storms. 

Getting out there. Giving Back. Getting something back yourself. These are elements in Bruce’s story that many volunteers will find in their own. 

There’s no fixed and singular way to begin as a volunteer. You can tiptoe, or leap! If you’d like to talk more about what volunteering looks like at the Reserve, and how to get involved, email Lynne Benoit-Vachon at lvachon@wellsnerr.org or call her at 207-646-1555 x118. 

In the meantime, keep out of trouble!

← View all Blog Posts