Ken Holt and Rachel Barton on Volunteering and the Willamette Writers Conference

A Volunteer Power Couple

Two years ago, Ken Holt had a wonderful experience volunteering for the Willamette Writers Conference. One of the first people he told about his time volunteering was, naturally, his wife Rachel Barton. Rachel, a poetry teacher at Linn-Benton Community College, was encouraged by her husband’s rave reviews and decided to sign up.

Last year, the two of them served in a number of different aspects of the conference: working Thursday night events, being room monitors for several sessions over the weekend and also helping out in the volunteer room. A session rarely went by without one of them offering valuable assistance.

“The best thing about my experience as a volunteer was the sense of community with fellow writers that grew out of hanging out together for a couple of days, sharing stories, and extending ourselves to smooth the way for the presenters and participants,” Rachel said. “It offered a special point of view into the working of the conference and the larger writing community.”

Ken, who worked exclusively as a room monitor, highlighted one of the best aspects of volunteering: The ability to be inside the room, listening to all of the wonderful writing information provided by the conference’s diverse and talented group of faculty, at a discounted rate.

“Learning from the presenters,” Ken said. “Attending great workshops, receiving advice from the pros, and helping the conference run smoothly. Bottom line – it is a fun, fulfilling time that stays with me all year long.”

A time Rachel knows all about.

Rachel is actively looking for poetry students. Connect with her at this year’s conference, August 1-3rd. Check out Ken’s creative nonfiction story “The Cowgirl in the Red Hat” about his experiences at the conference. Check out more about volunteering at the conference.