Volunteer Spotlight, Rachel Yzaguirre
Special Olympics Oregon (SOOR) volunteers are fundamental to every program and event across the state. Volunteer opportunities range from coaching and program management to event volunteerism and administrative support. There is truly a role for everyone interested in becoming a SOOR volunteer!
Inspired by her brother Dylan, a Special Olympics Oregon athlete, Rachel Yzaguirre has been volunteering for Special Olympics Oregon for over a decade. From practices to traveling with the basketball team to the USA Games, she has been a tremendous source of inspiration, encouragement, and joy to volunteers and athletes alike.
From a young age, Rachel has supported teams and programs in Yamhill and Klamath Counties. She works as a Personal Support Worker and is the Communications Manager for the Klamath LPMT. She loves being involved with SOOR, and in the off season is always thinking about Special Olympics Oregon and what more she can do.
What does she consider one of her biggest accomplishments?
“I would say the biggest one was when our basketball team went to the Special Olympics USA games in Seattle in 2018, with coaches Darcie Turner & Judi Ferguson. That experience was once in a lifetime! You literally felt like you were in a whole other place at that time. It was so welcoming, so big, a celebration for all these athletes. The way that town came together, how welcoming that college was to have us stay there and accommodate all the athletes was amazing, the parade they had, the opening ceremonies, everything was breathtaking. Our athletes played their hearts out, I couldn’t have been prouder of them in that moment.”
What drives her passion behind volunteering for Special Olympics Oregon?
“The biggest thing that had me start volunteering was Dylan, but once I got into it and saw the community as it is it really opened my eyes to how amazing this community can be, how open arms they are. If you are having a bad day, they will make it better for you no matter what is going on and what they have going on. They take you in as you are as and appreciate you. I learn something new from these athletes every day when I’m around them. If I’m having a bad day, when I go to practice or interact with the athletes, it changes my mood 180 degrees. I go from being not in the best mood to happy and smiling; they reel you in and make you feel so at home.”
Special Olympics Oregon volunteerism is a way to get involved in community in a meaningful way. Without volunteers who dedicate their time, talent, energy, and enthusiasm to making the world a more inclusive and accepting place, SOOR would not be as successful as it is.
Said Yzaguirre, “if you become a volunteer, you are going to be coming into a community of people, athletes, families, caregivers; they are so welcoming, you won’t feel out of place. They welcome you with open arms and they don’t discourage or belittle you. They love you for you, even if they just met you. That is one of the biggest things I love about the athletes I have come to know, they are the most likable, loving people you will meet; they radiate love, smiles and happiness. They reel you in with their contagious laughs. SOOR has opened my eyes and changed my perspective on my day-to-day life and just how I perceive everything that happens.”