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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Without Volunteering, Life Would Be Boring

Judy Rigby will run the kitchen for Tuesday’s 38th annual Bear Booster Ham Dinner at Central Valley High School.

In typical Judy style, it’s a job she’s filled for more than 20 years. That adds up to 10,000-plus ham dinners over the years, and she doesn’t plan to stop anytime soon - even though her youngest son graduated from CV almost 10 years ago.

Rigby is still involved in PTA - although she and her husband, Chad, have 26 grandchildren and four great-grandchildren. She does it for the joy of helping parents learn to enjoy their children, she says.

And she still works as a secretary for a former Scoutmaster of her sons - even though she offered to help out Jim Demars for a few days 11 years ago.

Rigby, 57, is not someone to do things halfway.

She keeps volunteering at the ham dinner because she has fun.

“I’ve got a lot of good helpers and it’s the only time of year I get to see some of them.”

After raising 12 children, “yours, mine and ours,” the logistics of a big dinner don’t faze her.

How many hams does it take to serve 500 people?

“You just figure a quarter pound per person.”

In 20-odd years of being in charge of the kitchen crew for the ham dinner, she’s seen most of the things that can go wrong.

In the days when the cooks brought hot plates and portable ovens to the school for the dinner, they managed to overload the circuits one year.

“We had to find the janitor and he couldn’t figure out how to get the power back on right away. We said, ‘Oh, no, our potatoes aren’t going to be ready.’ “

The dinner, of course, went on.

Run short of food? “Someone will just run to the store.”

Besides, Rigby likes the Bear Boosters’ cause: raising money for scholarships.

Rigby works on the regional level of PTA. But when she can, she urges local members to spend more time with their children.

“I was at Progress (Elementary School) the other night, and they were talking about fund-raising. And I said, ‘You know, PTA is trying to get some of its emphasis off fund-raising and onto doing things as a family.”’

The lack of time and money - and all the other stresses faced by today’s parents - are familiar territory to Judy.

“When Chad and I married, his oldest daughter was 16 and I was 25 years old. His youngest was 6, and my kids were 2 and 4. Then we went on to have five of our own. And you know, over the years I never once heard one of the kids say ‘You’re not my brother.”’

Chad used to joke that the back lawn didn’t need mowing because so many children, theirs and others, played on the grass.

He jokes now, when you ask him if Judy is busy these days.

“You could say that. … She’s at a play rehearsal tonight at the church.”

The Rigbys are members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. She’s participating in a musical presentation about the pioneers, “Safe in Every Footstep.”

And when does she find time to help organize the ham dinner?

“Oh, I think I heard her on the phone the other night at 11 o’clock, organizing that.”

, DataTimes ILLUSTRATION: Photo

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