Years after saying 'I do,' Asheville couple strives to do more for community

In retirement, the Pam and Tom Siekman have found their own niche when it comes to volunteering. (Photo credit: Jesse Kitt Photography)

Fifteen years after they said "I do," an Asheville couple strives to do more.

Pam and Tom Siekman are News 13's Persons of the Week. Their philanthropy is part of the chemistry that helps the community.

Their recipe for a loving marriage isn't a mystery, but the flame that drives them might be an unexpected ingredient.

"Isn't this great? Yeah, we live in the neighborhood," Pam said recently at Chiesa Restaurant.

Every year, Pam and Tom are ambassadors for WNCAP for the Dining Out For Life fundraiser. This year, they went table to table at Chiesa.

"So, 20 percent of your tab tonight is going to be donated to the Western North Carolina AIDS Project," Pam explained.

"This is letting people know that HIV/AIDS is still important," she said of her work.

"Last year, we raised over $150,000 in one day!" she told customers that night.

"There's a great deal of satisfaction in helping those who need your help," Tom explained.

Pam's motivation is deeply personal.

"This is my friend Nick," she said, holding a picture of the best friend who died of AIDS at 44 years old.

"He just looked at me and said, 'Make it count, Pammy. Make it count,''" she recalled. "And that's something I'll never forget, and that's why I do this work."

In retirement, she and her husband work for the community.

A huge scrapbook tells the story of their global careers in the corporate world. When it came time to retire in Asheville, they both wanted to find a purpose.

"HIV/AIDS, this is the cause of my life," Pam said.

As a former corporate attorney, Tom's found his own niche.

"My focus is a little bit different than Pam's," he said.

On the phone, he's a volunteer voice for people in need at Pisgah Legal.

"My name is Tom Siekman. I'm a volunteer attorney at Pisgah Legal Services," he said, manning the hotline. "And I'm calling about the matter you brought to our attention."

"Pisgah Legal Services represents people who need a lawyer, can't afford a lawyer, and deserve a lawyer," he said. "Without Pisgah, they wouldn't have representation."

He also volunteers for NC Guardian ad Litem, offering legal help to kids in the court system. So, you could say they're a power couple when it comes to philanthropy.

"It also makes our time more rich and more meaningful," Pam said.

As a WNCAP Board Member, Pam's driven by the words of her late friend Nick -- still driven to "make it count."

"I took that to heart," she said. "I took that to mean make every day of your life matter."

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