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A paws-itively impactful volunteer

Fridays are generally a bit livelier in the second floor reception area of the Jesse Epstein building.  That’s because Korah, service dog to volunteer Roger Morrell, is in the house.  The seven-year-old beagle/Labrador is constant companion to Morrell, who battles multiple sclerosis.

“She walks on my right side and keeps me straight,” says Roger. “I have problems with balance and get exhausted without my cane, which is where she comes in. The hardest part was getting her used to such a short leash, because she’s so good that she doesn’t even need a leash. But she’s used to it now.”

Morrell located Korah in cyberspace, via Craigslist, and has spent the past seven years training her so that she’ll qualify as a service animal and be allowed to accompany him just about wherever he needs to go.

Korah also gives him that boost of energy we are all sometimes lacking in.

“She makes me want to get off the couch in the afternoon.  She gives me that reason to go out and take a long hike,” Roger adds.

And regular visitors and employees at Epstein can’t help but stop by to give Korah a treat or scratch, and also to say hello to Roger, who has been helping manage the reception area for about two-and-a-half years.

During this period, Roger has applied his many office and computer skills to ensuring things run smoothly at Epstein.  With a thorough background in database management, technology is a snap for the Mount Vernon native and current Beacon Hill resident.  He’s also helped run a restaurant and worked for several years at RealNetworks, a streaming media company based in Seattle, but says his time spent at Neighborhood House is extra-meaningful.

“I like the mission of Neighborhood House,” says Roger.  “It doesn’t matter who you are or what your beliefs are or where you’re from.  Everyone gets the same help, the same chance, and if you have an issue, most likely Neighborhood House can help you.  And if we can’t, then we’ll be able to direct you to someone who can.”

Roger first became acquainted with Neighborhood House when, as a child, his father would take him on occassional class field trips to Seattle as part of sociology classes he taught. 

“My brothers and sisters and I would learn what it was like to live on the streets of Seattle, and there was Neighborhood House, in the thick of it, helping people.”

For now, Roger says he’s right at home at Neighborhood House, and hopes his volunteer work can turn into a paying gig.  And Korah seems perfectly comfortable, too.