Golden Girls: Doris McCorkindale, Jo Laughlin share passion for volunteering

Charlie Denison

Jo Laughlin, left, and Doris McCorkindale share a laugh at the Central Montana Community Cupboard Thursday morning. The two have volunteered together at the cupboard for 17 years and counting.
Photo by Charlie Denison


 In two weeks, Doris McCorkindale turns 90, and she still shows no signs of slowing down.

During the week, McCorkindale helps out as volunteer coordinator at the Central Montana Community Cupboard, assists with Special Olympics and dances away her Saturdays at the Senior Center, an organization she loves so much she’s on the board to help keep the venue going.

“I need a purpose in life,” she said. “I’m not the type of person that sits in a rocking chair feeling sorry for myself.”

Friend and former community cupboard board president Jo Laughlin shares this enthusiasm for giving back. In a few months she’ll be 88, but she’s far from ready to “take it easy.” She can’t stop giving back and helping others.

“It gives me a good feeling to be able to help somebody else,” Laughlin said. “We see a lot of people come in who need a lot of help.”

McCorkindale nodded.

“Plus we don’t know how to say ‘no,’” Laughlin added. “We were even elves on the North Pole Adventure train.”

Like McCorkindale, Laughlin stays involved in a variety of activities. She is a community coordinator for the Moose Club, a member of the Retired Senior Volunteer Program board and an avid bowler.

“I’ve always loved bowling,” she said. “I even started a handicapped bowling league in Great Falls. I’ve been on a number of bowling boards and am still involved in the sport by regularly competing in the senior league here.”


Seeing a difference

McCorkindale and Laughlin are proud to see many in the community take advantage of the community cupboard.

“We gave away 9,987 pounds of food last month to 360 children, adults and seniors,” Laughlin said. “This wouldn’t be possible without our 38 volunteers. They are the ones that keep the community cupboard going. Several of these volunteers have been with us 20-plus years.”

McCorkindale said she is tremendously grateful for the volunteers on board, but she added there could always be more.

“We’d like to see more younger old people,” she joked, “as opposed to old old people, like us.”

McCorkindale and Laughlin were once the “younger old” people. When they started volunteering at the cupboard, they had no idea they’d be career volunteers.

“Once I got started, I was hooked,” Laughlin said. “It’s a rewarding job. I enjoy donating my time and effort to this cause.”

As for McCorkindale, Laughlin jokes she just likes the building, as she used to work at a print shop in the same location before the community cupboard was established.

“Well, I didn’t have to remember where I had to go to work,” McCorkindale said, laughing.

Helping others is one of McCorkindale’s major goals in life, and after leaving her full-time job at the age of 84 she was ready focus on giving back.

“I didn’t want to take a job away from a younger person, and I really wanted to help people,” she said.

At the time, McCorkindale was working in Lewistown. Native Montanans, McCorkindale and Laughlin grew up in the Treasure State but pursued careers in other states. Both, however, started their careers in Montana.

“When I was 17-years old I was teaching at a little country school,” McCorkindale said. “Now I’m dancing at the Senior Center with one of my students.”

 When McCorkindale left Montana, she took a job with a party plan business in Washington. She even started a company in Canada.

“I’ve done it all…I think,” she said.

Laughlin started working for the City engineer’s office in Great Falls and then started her own secretarial service in the area. From there, she spent 20-plus years in Colorado, where she worked a variety of jobs. She was a secretary at Coors, was on the state bowling board and volunteered with inner-city children.

“I never worked with inner-city children,” McCorkindale chimed in.

“That was very difficult,” Laughlin said. “I wanted to take them all home with me.”


Feeling grateful

Back in Montana, McCorkindale and Laughlin are both enjoying the community and all the opportunities to give back. It’s easy for them, as they are energized and excited about life.

“We can do this because we have our health,” McCorkindale said. “We do all of our own work at home: We cook, we bake, we do housekeeping and we even work in our yards.”

McCorkindale credits part of this to the quality of life a small town offers. She also says her and Laughlin’s commitment to volunteering plays into their positive, light-hearted attitudes.

“We have fun,” McLaughlin said. “That’s the most important part. You have to have fun, keep your mind and your body busy, and have a good sense of humor. Don’t take everything seriously.”





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