Jul. 5—AUBURN — Before the pandemic arrived, Diana Pippin was tasked with issuing birthday cards to the members of her local seniors group. So when COVID-19 forced the group's members to stay home, she made it a point to call every member on their birthday.
Since most people had been stuck at home, they were eager to talk and catch up.
Pippin and her husband, Frank, are ramping up their volunteer time again now that things are opening back up.
Diana Pippin spends most of her energy with the First Auburn Senior Citizens and the Auburn Senior Community Center. Frank Pippin volunteers six days a week between Meals on Wheels and delivering mail at St. Mary's Regional Medical Center.
"Every day except Wednesday," Diana said of Frank's volunteer schedule. "That's when we're at the senior center."
The First Auburn senior group meets at the Auburn Senior Community Center every other Wednesday. They eat meals, play Bingo, and take part in a growing list of activities.
Pippin estimates there are 75 to 80 members of the First Auburn seniors, who were obviously ready to get back together once it was deemed safe. The group held its first in-person gathering in late June and 52 people arrived, including new members.
"There's a lot of people in the community who want to get out and do things," she said.
Diana Pippin, 74, grew up in downtown Portland, but moved to Auburn nearly 50 years ago. She worked as an educational technician for 27 years, mostly at Auburn Middle School. When she retired in 2014, she volunteered her time at the school teaching sewing to students during a 10-day part of the family and consumer arts program.
Frank Pippin, 76, retired the same year. He worked as a mechanic at the National Guard base near Mt. Apatite. He now brings Meals on Wheels deliveries from Lewiston to Livermore three days a week, and following a pause due to COVID-19, spends four days delivering inter-office mail within St. Mary's Regional Medical Center.
Asked what led the couple to begin volunteering, Pippin said they found out about local organizations from friends after retiring, and wanted to stay active.
"It just naturally resulted in volunteering," she said. "I try to help out wherever I can really."
Even during the pandemic, Pippin said she found ways to help. She delivered meals to vehicles during the community center's 'Grab N Go' meal program, and kept the birthday celebrations alive.
When Diana began the birthday calls last year, she said she was initially surprised by the reactions she received.
"A lot of people wanted to talk," she said. "It had been awhile since they had talked to anybody."
Sabrina Best, director of Auburn Recreation, which oversees the community center, described Pippin as "just a great soul and community member."
"Nothing slows her down," she said.
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