Sherry Bentley: Be a Doer

December 22, 2023

By Garrick Bateman, Conservancy volunteer

Sherry, hiking at Waikiki Springs Nature Preserve

Sherry Bentley found Inland Northwest Land Conservancy at a time when many of us were turning to the outdoors as an escape. Before the COVID-19 pandemic, Sherry had been a regular volunteer with local food banks, but with such opportunities coming to a decisive halt in the summer of 2020, she was forced to look elsewhere for her calling. Getting outside to hike became not only a necessary reprieve for her amidst a remarkably turbulent time, but also a private call to action—the importance of protecting our shared lands came into sharp relief during that time of crisis.

Once pandemic-related regulations began to relax, Sherry got her start volunteering with the Conservancy, first with a trash pick-up session at Waikiki Springs Nature Preserve. For Sherry, as is often the case, the cause became addictive and she quickly became a regular volunteer, invigorated not only by the sense of community the organization fosters but also by its mission of protecting the natural resources we all rely on, whether we realize it or not. It wasn’t long before she moved beyond volunteering only her time and began to contribute financially to the Conservancy’s goals. Wanting to maximize her contributions, Sherry turned to her employer, Avista, a fixture of the Spokane community.

The Eagle Loop at Waikiki Springs Nature Preserve overlooks Spokane and the mountains beyond.

Sherry speaks fondly of Avista–the active role they play in local initiatives and their steadfast support of their employees’ community priorities. Avista offers to match the charitable donations the employees make to non-profits of their choosing. And Avista isn’t alone. Offering to match the donations of employees is becoming an increasingly popular benefit amongst companies in the 21st century.

Of course, not everyone is in a position to contribute to their favorite non-profits financially. Luckily, some employers are willing to incentivize non-monetary support for local non-profits as well. Avista’s grant program known as “Dollars for Doers” allows the corporation to fiscally sponsor their employees’ volunteer hours up to a certain amount. So, when Sherry spends an hour of her time planting willows at Waikiki Springs, Avista will, in turn, pay a fixed amount to the Conservancy on her behalf.

For Sherry, it’s all about being a part of a cause bigger than herself. She shares an especially deep passion for the work being done to preserve Glen Tana, the famous “missing link” in protecting the Little Spokane River and a potential keystone in the effort to reintroduce chinook salmon to the inland northwest. Whether she’s contributing her time or her finances, everything Sherry does is about making that dream get a little closer to reality.

In the new year, why not ask your employer if they have a match program? Your time and dollars could count double for the cause of permanently protecting local places you love!