Helping people is just who he is
When it comes to finding the will and passion to help people, for a Canby man, it’s more than just a way of life. It’s a way of living.
And for that passion, Skip Palma has been chosen as the area’s 2023 Pamplin Media Group’s Amazing Neighbor.
Palma, 76, said that helping others comes from not only his thoughts but also his upbringing.
“I’ve always been that kind of guy,” Palma said. “My father was Filipino, and they are a giving, service-oriented people. I grew up on a farm, and it’s always been in my nature to look for the best in people, don’t judge by what they look like, and remember that this person has something I can learn from. I enjoy helping people because that’s who I was raised to be.”
Currently working part-time as a resource service coordinator for Cascade House and The Meadows as part of the Hope Village umbrella, Palma said he sees plenty of need for residents in the two complexes.
With a minimum age of 62 and about 50 residents in each unit, there are plenty of needs that Palma dives into.
“The concern is that with more than 50 people in each apartment building, how can I help them find more resources – and by resources, I mean more money and more food,” Palma said, noting that his mother lived in one of the buildings for 19 years before passing. “It’s about helping coordinate folks and help them through the processes. I do research for them, help with getting medicine costs at a reasonable rate, and other needs they have.
“My desire and commitment to help people has been my entire career philosophy,” he added, noting that he’s been a senior ombudsman and worked with SHEBA. “There is a lot of need among this population, and I want to make sure they get some help. I’ve been able to direct them to resources.”
Another issue that Palma sees the older generation dealing with is housing. He noted that it’s an issue that impacts people of all ages in this day and age, but those on fixed or minimal incomes have been particularly hard hit.
“Daily, I have people calling trying to find affordable senior housing,” he explained. “In both of our apartment complexes here, we have three-year waiting lists. There are so many people who need to find a place, and there ain’t no place. Housing, for my age group, is even more difficult. Most of those folks aren’t actively employed and are living on very limited money. I try to help them make the resources they have work until the end of each month. But seeing how minimally some of these people live – that’s what hurts me, drives me, saddens me.
“There are more than 100 people in two buildings, amazing people with amazing stories that have done and seen a lot,” he added. “But we’re all aging and changing. Whatever I can do to help, I’m willing to help.”
Palma grew up in Oregon. His grandfather owned property in Lake Labish, and driving down I-5 you can still see the house.
“My roots are in the Willamette Valley,” Palma said. “My kids went to 91 School, and I’ve been involved in the Canby area forever.”
He graduated from Gervais High School in 1965 and joined the U.S. Air Force a year later. He served in Vietnam and continues to battle the impact of Agent Orange, calling it “the gift that keeps on giving.”
“But, the Lord has blessed me, and I’m still here,” he said. “I don’t really have any hobbies. I grew up with work, and I’ve never stopped working.”
In addition to some work with the VA and other organizations, Palma also teaches concealed handgun licensing classes for Oregon, Utah and Arizona.
“That’s a real ‘Y’ in the road for me,” he said. “I’m just trying to get information in people’s hands to learn to be safe and be committed to safety. Been doing that for more than 10 years.
“All my life, if you go back, I’ve enjoyed teaching and helping people,” Palma added. “That’s kind of been the baseline for everything I have ever done.”
To the person that nominated Palma for the Amazing Neighbor award, Palma is something pretty special.
“This man is kind to everyone he meets, will go above and beyond to help anyone who asks for his help,” the nomination reads. “He retired from the Air Force, teaches gun carry classes, is a professional Ombudsman for the elderly, works as a professional social worker for Cascade House and The Meadows, and is liked and loved by thousands of folks in Canby and other cities. You need help with anything, he’s always there. It is my honor to nominate him.”