First person: Traveling to volunteer

CNJ staff photo: Liliana Castillo Rod Bakken spends his winters volunteering at the Lighthouse Mission.

Rod Bakken travels to Clovis each winter to avoid the bitter cold of North Dakota. While in town, he spends his days volunteering at Lighthouse Mission.

Christmas presence: It all started last year, it was Christmas time. My wife and I have been married for 39 years and I told her there’s nothing you need that I can get you and I don’t need anything that you can get me so why don’t we find a family that’s needy and we’ll just buy their children presents from us to each other to them. I called a pastor at a church here in town and he said to hook up with Richard Gomez down at the Lighthouse Mission. They were trying to raise 1,000 toys. I came down and talked to him and he took me around and introduced me to everybody and he took me back in the kitchen and introduced me to Sue, his sister, who is the kitchen boss. That’s right at home for me and I asked if they’d mind if I came down and helped prepare meals during the day. So I bought my wife 10 footballs for Christmas and she bought me 10 basketballs.

Kitchen time: I’m semi-retired out of the Army. I was a food service sergeant and I ran a restaurant for 11 years. I managed it. So I’ve been in kitchens most of my life. That’s just something I enjoy doing. I volunteer my time in the kitchen. I help prepare meals, serve meals, watch pots and pans. Whatever’s necessary to get the people fed.

Traveling nurse: My wife is a nurse practitioner. She does travel nursing in the winter months so we can get away from the bitter cold in North Dakota for a few months. This is our second year here. She sees patients at the Presbyterian clinic. She works basically 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday and I don’t have anything to do during the day so I come down here and volunteer my time. I like to volunteer to help my fellow mankind. And these people are wonderful people and they need a hand and here I am.