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Published: Friday, September 13, 2013, 12:01 a.m.

Lynnwood Senior Center fills volunteer’s need for exercise, activity

Lynnwood Senior Center fills volunteer's needs for exercise, activity

  • Mel Marklein is a frequent volunteer at the Lynnwood Senior Center.

    Mark Mulligan / The Herald

    Mel Marklein is a frequent volunteer at the Lynnwood Senior Center.

LYNNWOOD -- Mel Marklein, a retired tugboat captain, found the Lynnwood Senior Center through Pilates, of all things.
Marklein, 67, was suffering back problems, and a physical therapist told him a Pilates class would help him heal.
The senior center had a good deal, he said. After the class, he started volunteering there. He now works at the front desk two days a week, and spends another two days a week at the local food bank.
Through volunteer work, Marklein feels he can give back, he said. And there are other benefits, too.
"I'm up doing something," he said. "It'd be really easy for me to stay home and hardly ever get outside my front door. This is a way I get out and get exercise. Of course, that makes the doctor really happy."
Marklein grew up on a dairy farm in a small town in Wisconsin. He worked in electronics in the U.S. Navy in the 1960s. After the service, he ended up out west.
He sold vacuum cleaners for awhile but didn't like that much. He went to a Seattle tug company and asked to apply. They said no.
"I turned around and started to walk out," he said. "At the door they stopped me and said 'Well, we'll take your phone number.'"
His phone rang the next Monday. They had a boat going out at midnight. He was game.
For 40 years, Marklein "did all kinds of tug work," he said. He built bridges, sea walls and ferry docks. He spent 10 or 11 seasons delivering freight to villages in Alaska.
"I miss the people. I don't miss the job. It's tough," he said. "We don't get a choice of weather conditions a lot."
These days, he sometimes square-dances, and goes to church. He helps with ushering at his church when he's needed.
He likes the food bank and the senior center.
"The staff there are great," he said. "They really go all out to help people as much as they can."
The senior center counts as many as 90 active volunteers, supervisor Mary-Anne Grafton said. This year, the volunteers are on track to top 8,000 work-hours so far.
They call Marklein "Mr. Marvelous," she said. He greets people, answers the phone and registers people for classes and activities.
"He's very engaging and very respectful and really accurate," she said.
Marklein also serves on the board of the Appreciation Fund, a nonprofit that supports the senior center.
Meanwhile, the center always needs volunteers who can teach classes involving particular skills or hobbies, such as wood-working or macrame, Grafton said.
"There's no way we could do what we do without our volunteers," she said.
Rikki King: 425-339-3449; rking@heraldnet.com.
Lynnwood Senior Center
For more information about the Lynnwood Senior Center, call 425-670-5050 or stop by at 19000 44th Ave. W., near City Hall.
Story tags » LynnwoodShippingPeopleRetirementSenior activities

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