“And they shall run and not be weary and they shall walk and not faint.”
Perhaps someday there will be an event that combines the challenge of a cross country ultra-marathon with the unique rigors of volunteer work. Participants would stride down forest trails and check in at designated stations, gathering supplies and rallying support for nonprofit causes along the way. Winning would be based on a calculation of time and overall community impact.
If that event ever does take place, chances are that Trudy Reese will be on the medal stand.
From visiting prisoners at the Eleanor Chase Halfway House to organizing clothing drives for homeless shelters, Reese sets an inspiring pace on the pathway of service.
Trudy Reese has lived in the Spokane Valley area for 35 years. She currently serves as the Humanitarian leader in the Evergreen Ward of the Spokane East Stake.
“We will sleep better at night if we serve,” Reese said. “We will suffer less with our shortcomings and hardships if we look around and ask ‘How I can help?’ rather than ‘What’s in it for me?'”
At Eleanor Chase, a Washington State Department of Corrections facility, Reese and other volunteers have delivered messages of hope and encouragement to those transitioning from prison back into the real world. Conversations deal with topics such as developing positive self-esteem to effectively managing stress.
“These are wellness classes,” Reese said. “We’re talking about individual worth, choice and accountability, good works and integrity. When we work on strengthening the home and family, their problems diminish.”
Appropriately, Reese’s first organized run was connected to an effort that generates funds and awareness for a gallant cause – the fight against cancer. Running as part of a Relay for Life team in 2006, Reese completed an eight-mile segment and shortly thereafter signed up for a half-marathon. Full marathons and ultra-marathons (races over 26.2 miles) followed, in places like Lake Chelan, Seattle and Cle Elum. Often members of her family will run with her.
“I am not a fast or gifted runner but I can endure,” Reese said “Running provides many object lessons for me. I run outside in all conditions. When I am sad, I run, when I am overwhelmed and feeling sorry for myself I run. I have talked to myself out loud when running, I pray when running, I have laughed and cried while running, I have solved all of the world’s problems while running, I have come up with some of my worst and best ideas while running.”
Reese is the first one to admit that record-fast times are not her objective when lining up at the start of a race. Instead, she has learned that running has become a metaphor for many aspects of her life, from fulfilling potential to overcoming a range of obstacles.
“It’s in your head,” she said. “It’s a mindset. The idea is to keep pressing forward.”
Reese began participating in organized runs in 2006. She has competed in half-marathons, marathons and ultra-marathons.
For Reese, running has also become a source of reflection, reinforcement and cleansing.
“I remember running in the middle of a blizzard very early one morning in January over 20 years ago after my grandma, Alice, died. I cried and cried.” Reese said. “I spoke out loud to her – my eyebrows and eyelashes were caked with snow and I am sure icicles were forming underneath my nose – but it was therapeutic. I have had many such moments since then. Yes, we need to say our prayers, read our scriptures and render Christlike service and we need to help ourselves.”
After 11 years of teaching early-morning seminary, Reese currently serves as Humanitarian leader in the Evergreen Ward of the Spokane East Stake. She is also a Temple worker. Her latest ward project consists of collecting personal care items for Eleanor Chase and Hope House, a shelter for women facilitated by Volunteers of America (see this week’s issue of Health and Help for more information).
“The gospel requires that we try to envision the ‘big picture’ and look well beyond this moment in time, this life and ourselves,” Reese said. “It gives us a reason to get up or back up and keep trying. My favorite scripture blocks are the many on charity and the phrase ‘here am I, send me.’ I believe it is a simple thing to live the gospel. Yet, it is vital to understand that simple and easy are not the same thing. It requires daily commitment to stay focused on eternal principles.”
Trudy and Dale Reese have been married for over 33 years.
Trudy and her husband Dale have been married for over 33 years and are parents of five children. They have five grandchildren.
“I met Dale just after he returned from a mission to New Mexico at Institute here in the Valley,” Trudy said. “He is my hero.”
Over the years, Reese has donated time to a variety of causes, including parent groups in the Central Valley School District, the Volunteers of America Crosswalk Shelter and the Federal Bureau of Prisons. Reese said her spiritual foundation has always been a springboard for service.
“Active membership in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints offers everyone opportunities to participate in and grow from countless volunteer efforts and service projects,” Reese said. “When all is said and done, I hope to have done something. I also know that whenever I seek to give, I always am reminded how much I owe and end up owing more. I think I do better when I think less about how I am doing and more about ‘how are you doing?'”