4-H Fix: Hazel Goodwin

Hazel Goodwin

By Ron Drum, Statewide 4-H Program Professional/Associate Director 4-H Resource Development

What do you say to someone who has given a lifetime of service to 4-H? It’s a bit of a puzzle, actually. The usual things we say to folks to let them know we appreciate what they’ve done, just don’t seem to fill the need in this case; don’t go far enough, cover enough ground. You see, this is no typical situation; nothing typical about it at all. We toss around the term “lifetime” as if it had little meaning but in this case, “lifetime” actually means “LIFETIME”!

This year Hazel begins her 63rd year volunteering for 4-H! That’s as long as some people live! Sixty-three years. That’s longer than I’ve been alive and I go back some, myself! I mean, I go back to Sputnik!

Who does anything, except perhaps live, for 63 years!?

Hazel Goodwin, for one.

Hazel has been rendering volunteer service, quietly and calmly and in the best of all traditions, as Leader, or Assistant Leader, of the Four Leaf Clover 4-H Club of Shapleigh, Maine since 1954 — the very same 4-H club she’d joined as a member back in 1931; the very same 4-H Club that may be Maine’s longest continually operating 4-H Club (it organized in 1918)!

4-Leaf Clover Club 4-Hers with club banner

But then, why shouldn’t Hazel serve 4-H for a lifetime? It was through 4-H that Hazel found her footing in life and it was the FOUR LEAF CLOVER 4-H CLUB that helped give her that footing! Nine-year-old Hazel went to a Four Leaf Clover 4-H Club meeting in 1931, fell in love, and never left!

Actually, while going to the 4-H club meetings, she fell in love TWICE! Once with 4-H and then a few years later, once with a fellow Four Leaf Clover 4-H Club member named Roland Goodwin.

Newlyweds Roland and Hazel GoodwinRoland’s older brother, Carlton, had just become the club leader when Hazel joined in 1931. He, too, started as a member of the club before volunteering to serve it as the leader. In fact, in 1928, while he was still a member but also serving as the club’s Assistant Leader, Carlton was selected as York County’s Outstanding 4-H Club Member of the Year. But it was his brother, Roland, who got Hazel.

They were married Easter Sunday, April 1, 1945.

They’ve been together ever since.

Hazel was a 4-H Member for 11 years, 1931-1942. Tough years, those. The Great Depression was in full swing when she joined 4-H in 1931 and World War II was in full swing when her membership ended in 1942. Things were a tad better in 1954 when, because her children had joined 4-H — of course the Four Leaf Clover 4-H Club — she decided to give back a bit to 4-H what 4-H had given her, by becoming a 4-H Volunteer. Usually, when a volunteer’s children leave 4-H, the volunteer does too. Hazel enjoyed 4-H so much she stuck with it. In 1961, the club’s primary leader, Violet Eagle, passed away. The club naturally turned to Hazel for leadership.

It still does. The present leader, Else-Maria Cook, a 4-H Volunteer Hazel first recruited in 1973 and who became primary leader of the club in 1992, says she often seeks advice and input from Hazel about the club.

Roland, Else-Maria Cook, and Hazel
Roland, Else-Maria Cook, and Hazel. Photo by Sally Farrell.

So what is it about this club and the program called 4-H that Hazel likes so much? She says it is the chance to be a part of, and help, the community! According to Sally Farrell, her 4-H Agent,

Hazel has been adamant that club members serve the community. The Four Leaf Clover Club cleans the town hall and fire station, plants flowers around the town, and serves the meals for the town meetings. As a result of the club’s commitment to the town of Shapleigh, the town gives each resident child who is a member of 4-H a small yearly stipend. Hazel is also committed that the children not only learn about state and national history but makes it a priority to take members on field trips to local historic sites.

Fund raising is another way the club gets involved. “One of the ways the club raises funds for York County 4-H is by having members and parents work at the Acton Fair 4-H food booth. Hazel has been volunteering at the food booth since 1954,” reported Sally. An example of the club helping their town comes from 2013 when, during Shapleigh Community Day, the club sold lemonade and raffle tickets for a quilt and other gifts raising $150.

While describing what Hazel means to the York County 4-H Program, Farrell said,

Hazel’s impact on the youth cannot be measured. Not just the 4-H members, but their families, as well! It is what makes her such a great 4-H Volunteer. She has truly touched many generations of families over the years and now is helping great-great grandchildren of her original members. Her club is a great example of letting the youth choose their own projects based on their own interests. The children drive the projects, not the leaders. Under Hazel’s guidance, leaders are committed to helping the children find materials and support for their projects. Hazel has welcomed families into the club so a true community environment is on display during meetings. Older youth are encouraged to mentor younger youth in the club. What she also has are the babies and toddlers hanging out at the meetings with the parents so by the time these children are old enough to join as cloverbuds [4-H Members ages 5-8], they have a great understanding of 4-H and it is a natural path to 4-H membership.

If you ask Hazel why she’s been involved for so many years, what she gets out of it, why she keeps doing this thing called 4-H, she’ll tell you that she “just enjoys being with the kids”! Sally has suggested, “There should be a ‘Gettin’ It Done, No Drama Mama’ award for people like Hazel who just volunteer because they like kids!” But clearly it is more than that. This is a person who loves kids, cares about them, and wants to help them get their footing in life, much as she got hers, from 4-H.

It isn’t because she enjoys being with them as much as it is what she sees IN them and that she can do FOR them! Sally tells us

Hazel makes sure that all youth are welcome regardless of disability. She currently has three members that are autistic. All members are offered the opportunity to participate in all activities and no one is left out. When people call the Extension office to enroll their child in a club, Hazel can be counted on to take on the more challenging youth. Hazel’s club has a policy of taking any child regardless of disability. And it is one of the largest clubs in York County, always with more than 20 members.

However, after all this, we are still left with the same question we began with: What do you say to someone who has, so far, at least, given 63 of her 95 years of life volunteering for 4-H?

There isn’t much that can be said, I guess, except, perhaps, thank you.

Hazel Goodwin
Photo by Sally Farrell.

Thank you, Hazel. Very much.

However, there IS something besides “thank you” you can say to Hazel next time you see her: “Congratulations!” Why? Because Hazel was recently named the 2017 Maine 4-H Salute to Excellence Outstanding Volunteer Achievement Award honoree, the highest honor bestowed upon 4-H Volunteers by the University of Maine 4-H Program! Not only that, but due to receiving this honor, Hazel becomes Maine’s nominee for the 2018 National 4-H Salute to Excellence Outstanding Lifetime Volunteer Award. After 63 years of service, it still doesn’t seem to be enough but it was the best we could do.

Do you know someone who has made a difference in 4-H? Write and tell me about them and you may get them into a 4-H FIX!

BTW, we believe Hazel is our oldest Maine 4-H Alum! If you know different, tell us about them and get THEM into a 4-H FIX!

On June 9, visit the 4-H Fix for our third “Where are they now” offering, this one bringing us up to date on Maine 4-H alum Betsy Carroll.

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University of Maine Cooperative Extension conducts the state’s most successful out-of-school youth educational program through 4-H, a positive youth development program that has been empowering young people in Maine to reach their full potential since 1913.