It’s been many years since 80-year old Bob Osmond was in school, but that hasn’t stopped him from volunteering to help Napa’s students get the supplies they need to learn.
For the past several years, Osmond has been a regular volunteer at the Teacher Resource Center of the North Bay, a nonprofit supply center that provides local teachers with basic classroom supplies free of charge.
From art supplies to White-Out, the center stocks all manner of school products. To run such an operation, the center relies on a dedicated group of volunteers.
Osmond knows Kathleen Montgomery, the president and founder of the center. The two met when he moved to Napa after retiring as the director of worldwide facilities for a software subsidiary of Apple computer.
“I’ve done several volunteer projects with Kathleen,” Osmond said, adding that they both attend Covenant Presbyterian Church.
After Hurricane Katrina, the two were part of a group that rebuilt houses in the devastated area. When Montgomery began working on the Teacher Resource Center, “Why, she needed some help, and I said, ‘I’ll help you.’”
“I didn’t know what I’d do,” Osmond admitted, but he was happy to lend a hand. One of his first jobs was to unpack and sort donated items.
“There a lot of little things you do. Not hard tasks, but little things you have to get done to get what the teachers need.”
Osmond has been a big help, Montgomery said. “He’s a jack of all trades, I guess you’d say.”
After he developed post-polio syndrome, which can afflict those who suffered from polio many years ago, Osmond found it harder to travel to the warehouse on Gateway Road West near the Napa airport. But that didn’t stop him.
“He continued to help us, at his request, doing projects at home,” said Montgomery.
One such project included retrofitting donation boxes called holiday houses. The cardboard containers are left at local businesses for those who want to donate to the center. Each had to be assembled and a small slit created so spare change can be dropped in.
“He spent hours upon hours making these slits so that coins could fit in the boxes,” said Montgomery. “It is very tedious work. He probably did a batch of 50 and the next thing you know we needed 25 more.”
Osmond’s response? “No problem.”
And then there are the “thank you” notes. Most teachers and classrooms send a note of thanks to the center after receiving school supplies. Those notes are delivered via school district mail.
The pile of correspondence must be sorted so that each ‘thank-you’ goes to the right person, whether the group that donated the items to begin with, or perhaps the volunteer that helped the teacher during his or her visit at the center. Osmond does all the sorting of those letters and cards at home.
“He never complains,” Montgomery said. Even with his health problems, “He still finds time to volunteer and help others. He has that sense of service.”
The retiree estimated that he spends more than 50 hours a year working for the center.
The reasons he volunteers are not complex, Osmond said. It keeps him busy and he meets new people.
“You are helping someone. In turn, you are getting a lot of satisfaction out of it,” he said.