Billie MacDonald spends free time volunteering around Placer and Sacramento countiesBy: Tessa Marguerite, Reporter/Page Designer
Anyone who thinks volunteering is dull has most likely never spent an weekend with Billie MacDonald, selflessly serving at a parade, symphony or crab feed.
In addition to spending countless hours volunteering, MacDonald is a great-grandmother, collecting officer with Safe Credit Union and also has a glass fusing business called MacFusion. She moved from Berkeley to the Sacramento area several years ago after raising four children as a single mother. MacDonald now has five grandchildren and one great-grandson.
“Billie’s the first one, always, to sign up for something,” said Amanda Merz with community engagement and volunteerism for Safe Credit Union. The company offers employees 16 hours of paid time off during the year to volunteer, but most of MacDonald’s time spent volunteer is outside work hours. Merz said a majority of the volunteer opportunities that are posted for employees are from Team Giving. Team Giving is a nonprofit based out of Newcastle that connects volunteers with businesses or organizations in Placer and Sacramento counties. This year, MacDonald was awarded for excellence in volunteerism, the Magical HATT Award, from Team Giving, and was recognized by Assemblyman Kevin Kiley with a certificate of appreciation.
MacDonald said the reason she began volunteering stemmed from selfish roots. “Crime Stoppers was having a crab feed,” MacDonald said. “And I thought ‘Ooo … I’ll volunteer and I’ll get a crab dinner ‘cause they feed the volunteers!’” She was right. And as she signed up for more volunteer opportunities that popped into her email inbox, she found that in addition to the positive experience, she was meeting some very delightful and genuine people. “I have met the most interesting people in Sacramento — which I never thought lived here,” MacDonald said with a laugh.
A few of the events and fundraisers MacDonald has participated in over the past two years include: The Folsom Symphony, the Folsom Theatre Co., Make A Wish Foundation, Mercy Multiplied, Crime Stoppers, the Folsom Fire Department, the Sacramento LGBT Community Center and many others.
MacDonald is part of a group of volunteers that sorts through donated clothes for patients at Sutter Hospitals who might not have anything to wear when they are discharged. Before she joined the team, items that couldn’t be used by the patients, like undergarments or formal attire, were placed in a pile to give to a thrift store. MacDonald suggested that they give the remaining clothes to Women’s Empowerment. Now, after sorting through clothes at Sutter Hospital, MacDonald loads her car full of the remaining articles of clothing and brings then to Women’s Empowerment to offer the women for free.
MacDonald said when she found out how many people in her own community were in need, it was a shock. She realized many only have one pair of shoes or no change of clothes. “You have all these clothes that nobody else wants, they’re filling our closet,” MacDonald said. “And you give them to people and they’re so grateful.”
Through volunteering, MacDonald said she has become aware of many local organizations that she did not know existed.
One fundraiser that MacDonald has been involved in is St. Baldrick’s Foundation volunteer-organized head-shaving event. This year, she volunteered as a decorator handing out beads, and next year, she plans to participate in the event by getting her own head shaved.
MacDonald said seeing the recipients of the Make A Wish Foundation when they are granted their “wish” is just amazing. MacDonald remembers one little girl in a wheelchair whose wish was to go on a trip with her parents. Seeing her face as the wish was coming true is something MacDonald will never forget and has made her appreciate what she has.
Although she said it began with selfish intentions, MacDonald’s volunteerism has developed into a humble passion. When others ask her: “Where do you find the time?” or say, “Oh, I’m too tired at the end of the day.” MacDonald responds: “You don’t think I’m tired?” But because of how much her children and grandchildren benefited from the communities they lived in, the joy of seeing the gratitude in someone else’s face and the inspiring people she meets doing it, MacDonald continues to give back. “It has enriched my life more than I ever imagined,” she said. “I can’t even verbalize it … it’s just better. And I have fun. I’ve got more time than money, so why not?”