Thursday, April 20, 2023

Charmed into serving on the board, engaged by interacting with youth

Board member Linda Dacon welcomes
volunteers to last fall's Volunteer
Appreciation Party

Spotlight on board member Linda Dacon

Like many a newcomer to town, when Linda Dacon and her husband relocated to Port Townsend from Los Angeles in 2003, she began to look for ways to get involved with her new community.

And, like many volunteers for the Port Townsend Marine Science Center, she began her service as a greeter in the museum.

“There was a volunteer fair at [Fort Worden], and I thought maybe I'll go over and see what volunteer opportunities are available,” Linda recounted. “I went and talked to everybody, and I gave everybody my name and email address, and PTMSC was the only one who followed up!”

Linda’s rewarding career included serving as executive director of ClinicaPara Las Americas, a community clinic near downtown Los Angeles, and many years with the Los Angeles County Department of Health.

“We owned a big wooden sailboat so when we retired, we were looking for a place that would accommodate that, and had the marine trades to support it,” she said.

While her husband was back in the LA area readying their 41-foot sloop for transport, Linda was a bonafide shed girl living in a friend’s 18’ x 6’ garden shed for months while their new home was under construction.

Thanks to a concerted “charm offensive” by then-president of the board, the late Eric Harrington, Linda was encouraged to join the board of directors.

She told him, “I will do that if you promise me that it’s not the stepping stone to becoming the board president. Under no circumstances will I be president of the board. Is that clear?

“He (Eric)  said, ‘Oh yeah’ no problem, no problem.’  Well the next thing I know I’m board president,” she continued.

As a board member, Linda was particularly proud of her efforts to help write the grant application to the Paul Allen Foundation to pay the salary of  PTMSC’s first professional fundraiser, development director JoAnne Heron.

“Our proposal to the Paul Allen Foundation was that this was an organization that had grown very organically, very slowly, very carefully, for a number of years, and we were ready. We were poised and ready for a change, ready to take a leap. And that leap gives you opportunities. I wanted to convince them that we were a good investment,” she recalled.

Despite the satisfaction she receives with her leadership roles, Linda states that her greatest reward as a volunteer has been as a docent in the museum. “I like volunteering in the museum over the aquarium, I think you can get kids' attention a little more, and their parents, as well.” said Linda.

“The days that make it so worthwhile to me are when parents come in, clearly engaged with their child. We’ve had kids come in who are clearly so bright, and are already focusing on big issues. I love giving a lot of time and attention to kids. I feel like I’m making an investment in the future, not that anything magic is going to happen, or that the child is going to say ‘I made my choice in life because of this amazing docent I met at the Marine Science Center,’ but their minds are clearly bent in that direction. It’s exciting to have the opportunity to work with a kid like that,” said Linda.

Linda’s appreciation for the children and their parents has given rise to a habit she has with visitors.
“I always make a point with those families, to thank, both the child directly – I’ll thank them for their interest and their questions – and then I thank the parents. ‘I really enjoyed the time I spent with you today, thank you. You’ve made my life better, I hope something you’ve learned today will make your life better,’” she said.

PTMSC is grateful to have such dedicated individuals advancing the mission of promoting conservation of the Salish Sea. Thank you Linda!

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