At 16, her local RMEF chapter gives this volunteer a voice
By Charlie Ebbers, Bugle Intern
Piper Engler’s four older siblings were good for lots of things, most notably planting ideas in her head about what she could accomplish when she was older. But for her, age has never been a bump in the road.
Piper started kindergarten when she was 4 because she wanted to read and be able do what her siblings were doing, so her mom signed her up for school early. Now at 16, Piper is a high school junior and one of the youngest students in her grade.
She became a member of the RMEF Heart of the Valley chapter in Albany, Oregon, when she was 10 so she could volunteer at the annual banquet with the rest of her siblings. She has since become the chair of the kids events for banquets. The chapter is a place she feels she can contribute to a good cause, and she enjoys encouraging other kids to do the same.
“I just enjoy helping others, because it gives me an idea of who I am,” she said, adding that the Heart of the Valley chapter members value her input and respect her perspective, even though she’s young.
Piper comes from a family who loves the outdoors and she got involved with RMEF through her grandparents. Her grandmother Phyllis Stalcup remembers a chapter meeting when Piper was 10, the group of “mostly men,” was tediously discussing the banquet dessert choice but couldn’t decide between berries or apples.
Piper raised her hand and looked up from the schoolwork she brought along, politely saying, “I think we’ve been talking about this long enough, let’s go with the berry.”
Her mom Lorlee Engler says Piper has a Type-A personality—she likes to set goals, accomplish things and is always taking on new challenges. Decisiveness is a character trait her family says defines her—she’s not afraid to speak up and be heard. (The word is still out on how the berry dessert went over.)
Piper continues to be a well-rounded RMEF volunteer, with a variety of interests. A 4.0 student, she is taking AP courses to get ready for college. She’s also on the swim team and works as a swim instructor and lifeguard. She sings in her church choir and likes to shoot the left-handed bow she inherited from her mom.
College is on the horizon, but for now she’s focused on running the kids games at the RMEF banquet again next spring. The sense of community she feels at RMEF gatherings is one she’s felt a part of for a long time, maybe ever since the berry dessert was served.