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Mud slingers: WNCA volunteers, including landowner TJ Hooper, help build landings and campsites for the French Broad River Paddle Trail. photo courtesy of WNCA

Volunteers are the lifeblood of pretty much every group featured in these pages. Every effort helps, but here are a few notable local volunteer.

TJ Hooper

His family agreed to have a French Broad River Paddle Trail campsite constructed on their property; Hooper volunteered to help build the site and put-in. "I hope to inspire other landowners, so I can do the same thing farther down the river that we're allowing people to do on our property."

Where he volunteers: WNC Alliance

What inspires him: Paddling the French Broad River with friends and family.

Laura Pease

"I retired a few years ago, and my husband and I moved up from Louisiana to North Carolina. I'm a big animal lover: I have dogs, a rabbit, two birds, and l always said if I volunteered anywhere after I retired, it would be something to do with animals."

Where she volunteers: Asheville Humane Society

What inspires her: "I worked for the state of Louisiana for 33 years and received many plaques and awards along the way. I've never put any of them up on the wall, but the one I got as the Humane Society’s volunteer of the year is up on my wall now. I'm as proud of that as of anything I've ever done, and it showed the staff's appreciation of me."

Tips for getting involved: "A lot of people think volunteers just go in and play with the animals, that sort of thing. But where we're really needed is what you call ‘dirty work.’ And because the facility is so nice and they've really got good procedures and everybody has a good attitude, it's really not nasty. You get used to that if you've dealt with animals. It's not really exciting to clean out a litter box, but that's a way I can help the animals. I enjoy going."

Carol Halstrom

“I recognized that both hard work and a great deal of good luck contributed to my ability to achieve what I have in my lifetime. As the daughter of immigrants, I was particularly sensitized to the opportunities available to me.”

Where she volunteers: Care Partners, Meals on Wheels, Mountain Area Interfaith Forum, Building Bridges, Nuestro Centro

What inspires her: “The recognition of the opportunities that I've had, the recognition of the role of volunteers has always made clear to me that I, too, have a responsibility in building what, in my SNCC years, we truly did believe was the potential for a beloved community. It takes us all to achieve that or ever hope to achieve that.”

Her tips for getting involved: “Get off the couch. A lot of people talk endlessly about volunteering, about how they're outraged about the way immigrants are treated or the fact racism still exists in this country. Whatever you believe is where injustice resides, call the local United Way.” Halstrom also invites people to email her at

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