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February Jefferson Awards: Julie Olson at Bear Creek Services

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It just might be the easiest way to get involved in the community: turning your something you enjoy, into serving. And avid bargain hunter Julie Olson, has done just that.

She first started donating to Bear Creek Services after seeing a Christmas list of things that residents wanted in the paper. According to Bear Creek worker Brian Hale, Julie has been bringing donations for at least ten years.

He says she started just coming and dropping off Christmas gifts, but now comes all throughout the year. She always drops off really fun things for all the people in our programs.

Julie visits garage sales, stores, searches online, and even travels as far as Lake City to find items for people supported by the program.

"Sometimes she'll bring household wares that we need as an organization. She loves to buy DVDs and CDs based on the specific interests of what folks in our programs like. But you name it, she's brought it." Brain says.

In recent months, she's formed a special relationship with a man named Lynn after hearing that he wanted to go see a Bee Gee tribute band.

Julie says it was people at Bear Creek that brought them together. "I would bring in movies and cds and they described to me that Lynn likes the same movies and music that we like. So then I would go out and try to find stuff for him. It just kind of connects people that we all like the same things."

For Julie, the simple gifts allow residents to enjoy things that they otherwise may not be able to.

"Not necessarily that I have to donate money, but just CDs or music, movies, stuff that they can use cause maybe he can't get in the car and go to the movie theater. So this way he can still have entertainment."

Brain says that she has touched countless lives through her donations. "Julie is just a great example of someone in the community that decided to give back. In her own special way that fits her own interests, she's made a really big difference for a lot of people that have disabilities and brain injuries in the community."

But Julie wants no credit for her service.

"Give credit to these people, the care givers. They're the ones to me that should be thanked and get the awards because they're the ones that are here all day helping people like Lynn."

Her advice for those looking to get involved: contact an organization and see what they need.

"I saw somebody just wanted someone to home to the house to rake the leaves and I didn't even think of that. So next year my goal is to get some people to come out and rake the leaves at the houses."

Brain nominated Julie for the award to commend her for her service "On behalf of everyone at Bear Creek Services, we'd just like to thank her for all that she's done for so many people with developmental disabilities and traumatic brain injury."

Amanda Morgan

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