I volunteered to work at the recent Thousand Oaks Chili Cook-Off for a friend who was going out of town and didn’t want to leave the Rotary Club that puts on the event short-handed.

It was to be an all-day assignment, so I asked my husband if he’d like to join me. I have no idea why he said yes. Maybe it was because I was assigned to work the beer booth.

Upon arrival we met our team leader, Jim, and the other members of our group—one assigned to check IDs, one to place a bracelet on patrons’ wrists to signify they were of age, two to sell drink tickets, two to pour and two to serve the beer, wine and water. We helped with the latter.

We began at 10:30 a.m., and only at 2:30 p.m. could we finally take a breath. The line stayed about 20 deep the entire day. It was 5 p.m. by the time we broke down the booth, packed up and hugged our goodbyes.

My husband and I were tired and sore from being on our feet all day, but as we relaxed on the couch that night after some Advil and chardonnay, we recounted— with a little bit of awe—how wonderful our day had been.

Although my husband and I were new to the group and the task, we and the others quickly became a well-oiled machine.

As we worked our assignments, we got to know one another: There was the “beer whisperer,” who could convert tap foam into a proper glass of beer; the 80-year-old gentleman who’d lost his home in the recent fires and worked right beside us all day long; and team leader Jim, who approached every task with wonderful energy and personality. They were all great, giving people.

We marveled at the patrons, all of whom offered us a smile and a thank-you. How could people not be happy when we were handing them a beer, my husband reflected, but it was more than that.

Many placed tips in the jar for the Rotary, which supports local charities and the international eradication of polio.

This event was a true intergenerational experience, with a car show, kids’ zone, chili contest, food trucks, expo and so much more.

It was great to see people out and about enjoying their Sunday and supporting a great cause. Given everything residents went through last year, it was heartwarming to see the community enjoying themselves.

We ended our day thinking that there was likely not another activity we could have engaged in that Sunday that would have brought us such an immense sense of satisfaction and joy.

While the chili cook-off is now a memory, if you would like to experience some of that same joy, you may want to consider volunteering at the Ladin Subaru Love Run on Sun., June 2 in Westlake Village.

The Love Run is one of Senior Concerns’ largest fundraising events, with all of the proceeds going to the Meals on Wheels program. About 200 volunteers are needed to make it a success. You can gather your friends, family, neighbors, coworkers and even your Amazon delivery man.

All volunteers get a “groovy” volunteer shirt, a free pancake breakfast and the warm, fuzzy feeling of knowing that you have made a difference.

Children are welcome to help if they have adult supervision. We also invite companies that want to volunteer as a group. Come out and show the community that your company cares.

To choose the job and time that you’d prefer, sign up online at loverunwestlake.com/getinvolved/ volunteer-with-us.

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