Volunteer Yvonne Flynn at her Long Beach, Calif., home on December 13, 2012. Flynn volunteers for Tour of Long Beach, State of the City and a wide variety
Volunteer Yvonne Flynn at her Long Beach, Calif., home on December 13, 2012. Flynn volunteers for Tour of Long Beach, State of the City and a wide variety of private entities. She is a consummate volunteer. She takes volunteering so seriously, she asks Facebook friends to volunteer. She's even looking at this profile as an opportunity to urge people to volunteer. (Jeff Gritchen / Staff Photographer)

LONG BEACH - Visit Yvonne Flynn's house and ask about her volunteer work and you may instead end up talking about how your family is, or how you're enjoying married life, or perhaps simply how you're feeling.

Other topics may include Flynn's black English Labrador retriever, Shadow, who has a rumbling, intimidating growl readied for newly met people that is classic all bark, no bite at all. And won't you take some of her freshly baked goods?

Once you get to the volunteering, once Flynn, 53, reluctantly acknowledges what is a way of life for her but marveled at by those who know her, you'll find that it's out of the ordinary.

Flynn, a cancer survivor, is known in her community for habitually stepping up to help, whether it's for single mothers and their children at New Life Beginnings, at her church, at the State of the City address - and at many other ubiquitous places over the years that are so numerous she can't remember them all.

It's not really a question of if she will help, but if she has free time.

"Hi, I'm Yvonne," Flynn said she'll jokingly tell others. "I'm a chronic volunteer."

An American Sign Language interpreter, Flynn can be found on Sunday at Parkcrest Christian Church in Heartwell, her hands and fingers a flurry of motion as she connects hearing-impaired parishioners to God's word.

"One of the things I love about watching her is she's so expressive," said the Rev. Cathy Taylor, a pastor at Parkcrest.

"She can make her face into a million expressions, especially when she signs the songs. And if she can't come, she makes sure we always have someone."

Flynn's not quite sure why helping strangers comes to her so naturally, but suspects it could be the assistance she herself received during her youth as one of six children growing up in the Carmelitos Housing Projects in North Long Beach.

"We were pretty poor," Flynn said. "I think knowing that people took the time to help us stuck."

Stacey Toda, Mayor Bob Foster's deputy chief of staff, met Flynn at BikeFest Tour of Long Beach.

Predictably, Flynn was lending a hand at the event.

People are drawn to Flynn, Toda said, because of her positive nature and energy.

"I've described her as the perfect volunteer. Not only does she have a great attitude, but she wants to be there," said Toda, who added that Flynn seems "shocked" by the idea that others don't feel the same way.

Flynn agreed.

"Honestly, I think there's a tendency for some people to look at volunteering as something that will get them into heaven, or give them better karma, or whatever.

"It's something that's just in me."

eric.bradley@presstelegram.com, 562-714-2104, twitter.com/EricBradleyPT