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Robin Hood, volunteering spirit, alive in Sherwood
Both Phil and Lisa McGuigan believe that volunteering to make Sherwood a better place to live is what makes the Sherwood community so unique, be that by helping out to fix an older person's house up or participating in an annual festival that dates back more than 60 years ago.
For Phil, Sherwood is unique in that for a city of fewer than 20,000, there are tons of community events to get involved with — the Onion Festival, Cruisin' Sherwood, Alternative Arts Festival, the Robin Hood Winter Festival and Tree Lighting, Fire truck rides with Santa, Main Street Halloween, Concerts in the Park, Given n Gobble ("huge because it gives to our community and food bank"), and of course, the Robin Hood Festival.
"People just love the small-town feel and sense of community," Phil McGuigan said of the annual festivals.
But Phil is a more than a little partial to the Robin Hood Festival. That's because he's been involved with the festival (which dates to the 1950s) since 1998 and currently holds the title of president of the Robin Hood Festival Association.
"What's nice about the Robin Hood Festival, it's meant for all families," Phil said. "Our community is small enough, they really do care."
So dedicated is Phil to the festival that a dozen years ago, he had Steve Overton and Dan Demoy make an authentic-looking leather Robin Hood outfit, clothing that looks like it's from the time period but proves a little hot and heavy during those sweltering July days when he marches in the parade.
For Phil's wife Lisa, finding ways to volunteer has always been a big part of her life. For the last 15 years, she has served as an outreach coordinator for Providence Community Connections & Faith in Action (or Faith in Action for short), which is part of a nationwide program geared toward helping vulnerable adults and allowing them to age in place. The organization also sponsors the semi-annual Neighbor2Neighbor Day.
"We had 168 people come together in October for Neighbor2Neighbor Day," Lisa said of an event that gathers volunteers to help older adults with work around their homes that they might not normally be able to do.
That included firefighters from Tualatin Valley Fire & Rescue Sherwood Station No. 33, who pitched in as well.
"They actually went to an apartment and cleaned blinds," she said.
Some of those of residents served are those who have been in the community a long time, said Lisa.
"One of the nice things I like about it, we are serving people who built our community," she noted.
She said the group once helped a lady whose dad actually built the house they were working on.
"She didn't think people cared anymore," said Lisa, who also is involved with the Sherwood Rotary Club. "A lot of people we help are widows."
Because Sherwood is such a unique community, many of the long-time residents are happy to age in place and she wants them to help do just that.
"They don't want to leave," she said. "They want to stay in their home."
Faith in Action also takes residents to various doctors appointments and other trips seniors need to make.
Lisa said another aspect of the community she thinks is important to highlight is the fact Sherwood boosts no fewer than three food banks — Willowbrook, St. Francis and Helping Hands.
The McGuigans moved to Sherwood from their Seattle home in 1997 and before long, Phil became part of the festival.
"A lot of people look forward to the festival each year," said Phil, whose day job is that of a credit officer for U.S. Bank. "It's great to pull our community together and keep our traditions."
"The parade is a big draw," she said. "The streets are packed."
Today it's such a big part of the community that people have begun putting down chairs to reserve their spots along the parade route, which makes Sherwood Boulevard look similar to those who stake out spots at the Portland Rose Festival.
Even Phil's elderly father, John McGuigan, participated in one of the parades years ago going as far as dressing as Robin Hood as part of Avamere's "Glory Days" float saluting veterans. (A member of the U.S. Navy, John McGuigan was aboard the USS North Carolina in 1942 when a Japanese torpedo ripped a large hole in the side of the ship. He told crew members which compartments to close, ultimately helping to save the sinking ship.)
That parade float also had Phil's mother Blanche on board, dressed in full Renaissance regalia.
Phil points out that the annual festival can't be pulled off alone and praised such folks as Alice and the late Julian Thornton, Sandy Wallace, the Renaissance Singers and a bunch of other volunteers who make the annual event possible.
Parishioners at St. Francis Catholic Church, the McGuigans are parents of two children, Kyle, a 21-year-old Oregon State University student majoring in business, and Katie, 24, a University of Oregon journalism grad whose concentration was on advertising.
Phil admits he will have to pass on the Robin Hood Festival Association torch at some point.
Still he has no fear about its long-term fate.
"It will continue," he said. "We've been around 60 years-plus. We'll be around for a long time to come."
Editor's note: Shortly after this interview was conducted, the Robin Hood Festival organization held elections where both Phil McGuigan and Alice Thornton announced plans to transition out of their roles as president and vice president of the association, respectively. Susan Danz was elected as president and Larry Souza was selected as vice president. Meanwhile, this story also appears in the upcoming edition of Portrait Magazine, an annual publication that was inserted in the March 30 editions of the Tigard/Tualatin Times and the Beaverton Valley Times. This year's theme was "Hometown Heroes."