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2021 Volunteer Story Project

2020 offered challenges and Washingtonians responded.

Neighbors lending a hand, community activists, and volunteers make a difference in our communities every day, and especially in 2020. Serve Washington invited you to share volunteer stories and be a part of inspiring  service across the state. The stories highlighted below were submitted between January 21 and March 1 and are being highlighted on our social media throughout April to coincide with National Volunteer Week. 

 

Selected Story Highlights

 

Volunteer or Volunteer Group

Story

Featured on  Social Media

  2020 brought great uncertainty for residents of Washington State and  volunteers stepped up to provide scientifically accurate information about COVID-19 to the community through the development and administration of the Flatten the Curve Tri-Cities Facebook page.  "I joined the Facebook group, Flatten the Curve, at the start of the pandemic and it quickly became a go to place to understand what was going on. It helped me make decisions on how to run my business safely during this time. My staff is vaccinated thanks to the work of this group."  April 1
As the founder and leader of the Faith Food Bank, Roxana stepped forward when COVID threatened the food security of a growing number of community members and has been volunteering seven days a week to make sure people get fed.  Fundraising, picking up supplies, organizing volunteers, advertising services, cooking and much more, Roxana does it all. "Her vision to end hunger in our community is contagious and an inspiration."  April 2
There really are not adequate words to describe the steady, faithful, and extraordinary leadership that Don and Joan Andersen have gifted to the organizations that they care for deeply. At Rebuilding Together South Sound, that looks like 16 years of organizing a team of church members from the Fairwood Community United Methodist Church in Renton to participate in Rebuilding Day. In spite of challenges arising in 2020 with the pandemic, Don and Joan brought volunteers out in July and October to make good on a promise they made to a homeowner in February before we paused our work. With fewer volunteers, social distancing in effect and PPE, they completed their work at Michael and Amy’s home and gathered up donations from the church to offset our costs for the work. April 3
2020 did not slow down Cindy, Larry and other volunteers with Love INC as they continued to serve a variety of individuals, families, local non-profits, local schools and government agencies with their priority in service given to seniors, the disabled, single parents, veterans, and low-income families. You can find these faith-based volunters remodeling facilities, providing household items for families transitioning to permanent housing, working on cars for low income individuals, mowing lawns for senions, collecting donated medical equipment and distributing it to those in need and building wheelchair ramps the for low-income disabled individuals and seniors.  April 4
Setting the stage for an innovative drive-thru vaccination program in 2021, meant a great deal of interagency cooperation and volunteer service beginning in 2020 for this group. In this joint effort, the Sequim Operational Area has combined the resources of the S’Klallam tribe’s Jamestown Health Clinic, Clallam County’s Fire District #3, Trinity United Methodist Church, and the City of Sequim that is now working to immunize at least 70 percent of its 36,000 residents over the next few months. Recognizing the valuable contributions of CERT volunteers towards this work, Paula Towne from Serve WA shared “I am extremely impressed to hear how impactful the CERT program at Clallam County Fire District #3 has been in the COVID-19 response in your community.  It truly demonstrates all the possibilities of involvement that CERTs can have and the efforts that can be extended when a program is trained, practiced and supported.  Thank you to the members and keep up the great work!”   April 5
The connection that Walter and Evelyn, pastors at New Walk Christian Church, have always centered God and service to others and it goes beyond themselves as they continuously grow their partnerships with other organizations in order to meet the needs of the community. The couple makes sure that no need goes unmet and their services to others includes providing free clothing and household goods, helping families move into new housing, doing car repairs, and they are expanding into employment support in 2021 and becoming an agent of Career Choice Services. As community leaders, Walter and Evelyn are continually building new relationships and partnerships with groups like Praisealuyah Discipleship to continue to meet the community needs. Check out this video about their Feed the Need program. April 6
The Washington Veterans Home Essential Volunteers are making it possible for our most frail vulnerable Veterans to visit with their loved ones and their families. This included escorting our skilled nursing facility veterans to the outdoor visiting booths, mandated screening for all visitors, sanitizing stations between families and guests, and supervising visits to assure all CDC and DOH protocols were being followed. They also personally make sure that the Veterans are ready for the family visit.  April 7
Medicare can be a dry, confusing, and complicated subject for many. Statewide Health Insurance Benefits Advisors (SHIBA) program volunteers at the the Volunteer Center of Whatcom County are trained to help their neighbors understand and navigate their Medicare options. Dedicated volunteers serve Washington by providing free, unbiased, and confidential Medicare counseling.  April 8
Washington Service Corps AmeriCorps member Laura Shapiro serves as Program Coordinator with Seattle Music Partners, bringing free and low-cost music education to students in the Central District. "It is a privilege to serve my community doing what I do best: sharing my love of music.” April 9
Bobby, Kate, John Eleveld and Daisy Darby

Solid Ground’s Community Food Education (CFE) team recognizes youth volunteers Bobby, Kate and John Eleveld and Daisy Darby serving together at Giving Garden at Marra Farm during the COVID-19 pandemic contributing a total of 162+ hours this season!. With a dramatic decrease in groups serving due to the pandemic, families like the Eleveld family were able to safely socialize while getting their hands in the dirt and getting some fresh air. 

April 10
Ensuring that foster children felt seen, valued and cared for, despite the additional isolation brought on by the pandemic, remained the focus for these Clark County CASA volunteers. Their services efforts included car parades, becoming trained in educational advocacy so they could engage with the schools and ensure that the children were supported in their on-line learning. If you want to join volunteers like Bill Cline and Jan Ratzman in supporting foster youth in Clark County, learn more about how you can Change a Child’s Story.™  April 11
Humans aren't the only ones seeing their jobs change as the result of the pandemic. The team of therapy dogs involved in a literacy program sponsored by Communities In Schools of Peninsula were also forced to adapt. The four-legged friends that were accustomed to snuggling up with children who read aloud in schools, have found themselves looking at a computer screen instead. "It is so gratifying to see the powerful bond children have with Brody and how their confidence skyrockets," says therapy dog handler Jeff Essayan. Pictured here is therapy dog Annie and Corbin. April 12
Beata Allen shares her time and talents with the community by serving three to four times a week at Ferry County Search and Rescue/CERT helping to manage the flow of people arriving for COVID-19 testing. Arriving early for her shift and remaining until the last patient is served, she is one of the most dedicated CERT volunteers on the team.   April 13
When the pandemic struck, a long-time local employer’s volunteer program didn’t stop - it expanded, virtually. Employees of Umpqua Bank jumped in with both feet to "Serve Washington" - from providing free tax prep and financial literacy to creating snack packs for kids facing food insecurity, placing grocery orders for seniors, and nonprofit board service. Bank employees – 1,224 who work and serve in Washington state - were able to quickly ramp up virtual volunteering across Washington, thanks to having already begun building out a virtual volunteer infrastructure in 2019, in line with its human-digital strategy. April 14
image of woman - megan pirie early childhood education and assistance program parent in spokane county Hear Megan Pirie of Spokane share her own story of deep connections to her community and how she volunteers in Spokane County in this inspirational video. April 15
image of stacked boxes of food under popup tents in front of brick building with drive up lane and safety cones The Foodbank Delivery Program was created at the end of March 2020, as a response to the increased need of food access in Whatcom County that could not be met without the 60+ volunteers serving 400 households each Friday. An interagency collaboration with the Volunteer Center of Whatcom County with The Opportunity Council, Bellingham Foodbank and Whatcom Unified Command, each piece of this puzzle has been so essential to making this all work. "I am so proud of our community and what we have been able to accomplish.”  April 16
image of man wearing mask and orange safety vest with van in background filled with boxes of food for delivery As this AmeriCorps member is learning through service at the Thurston County Food Bank, a life of service opens us up to learning more about ourselves and the truth about the world around us. "Prior to joining Americorps I, unfortunately, had a preconceived idea of the type of person who is in need of food. Now I have come to the understanding that hunger in our country does not discriminate based on age, race, geography, profession, health, religion, or political belief. Especially with COVID-19, I am understanding how people's situations are changing so drastically, with people prior to living in large homes and of wealth, now needing assistance." April 17
image of four women wearing masks standing behind two tables with paper care bags filled with food and other items to donate Individuals with special needs have traditionally stuggled with inclusion in the general community and with many having underlying health conditions that put them at greateer risk for being impacted by the COVID-19 virus, Clallam Mosaic volunteers set to work to minimize the impacts of isolation. Now 77 individuals receive monthly home deliveries of care bags that include activity, craft kits and more, thanks to the families of individuals with special needs and community volunteers (not all are pictured here). April 18
image of man in suit and tie Retired and Senior Volunteer Program member Suvendoo Ray retired from a 32-year career and reconnected with Catholic Community Services' Youth Tutoring Program, but he does not stop there! Read more of what Solid Ground wrote about Suvendoo's volunteering for a healthy community. “I found out about RSVP through my retirement coach. RSVP really works for me because it had so many opportunities in one place. I found everything I wanted to do. It was like shopping at Costco.” ~ Suvendoo Ray April 19
image of woman wearing a mask holding bags of donated items standing at store front of recovery cafe Japanese Presbyterian Church has been a faithful supporter of Recovery Café for years, and has gone above and beyond during this pandemic season by providing homemade face masks and cookies, warm winter gear and clothes, and countless hygiene kit items for members who are experiencing homelessness, addiction or other mental health challenges. Church members can also be found volunteering on-site making coffee, organizing supplies, and supporting the cafe's meal program. April 20
VFW of Airway Heights have been wonderful volunteers throughout the years. This past year, they have supported the Spokane Veterans Home by getting supplies to help  make sure veterans can be virtually connected. They supply decorations for holidays and ensure that staff members are supported and appreciated. They do so much it’s hard to say everything they do. They truly follow our “Serving those who served.” April 21
Service is centered at the core of Dr. Ben Danielson, as he serves not only as a pediatrician and former Medical Director of Odessa Brown Children's Clinic but as an advocate for BIPOC community needs. In his advocacy work he stands against racism and speaks up for racial equity. After speaking out against health care inequities, Dr. Danielson's advocacy has led organizations, like Seattle Children's, to center health equity, diversity and inclusion in their work. He spent much of his time in 2020, as he has in many years prior, as a guest speaker and lecturer sharing his knowledge with groups like League of Education Voters around topics on racial equity in education, healthcare and community. Watch Dr. Danielson in action. April 22
Today's highlight is also in honor of
Global Youth Service Day!
The unofficial Kids Rotary Club, made up of fourth graders Amelia Morgan, Nora Bedard and friends, donated $100 to Cascade Medical Foundation to help in their hometown.Their fundraising efforts, benefitting CMF, Upper Valley MEND and the local hospital, is just one of many that this group of 4th grade, budding non-profit professionals had done to uplift their community. “I got tired of feeling like I was just a kid and not able to make a change in my community,” Amelia said. “I realized, if I tried hard enough, I could make a change. It was also helpful to have Nora there." 
April 23
After the COVID-19 pandemic arrived, Foster Grandparents serving at Homage quickly got up to speed on several online platforms and began serving virtually in classrooms providing support to teachers and children throughout King and Snohomish counties. “I am a mentor of sorts to the children," shares Foster Grandparent, Sam. "I tutor them. I sit down and talk to them from time to time. I know that I’m not a replacement for a family member, but I do fulfill maybe some of the roles a family member might fulfill. I help them work through any problems they have; those that are not outside my skill-set of course. I can relate to children who have trouble focusing or sitting still because I can remember what that was like and give them support and ideas.” Linda shares, "It’s fun for me to think of ways of how I can be supportive to the teacher and to the students." April 24
Many Washingtonians were impacted by travel restrictions and revisions so Pam Dawson and Dawn Brandon at Silver Star Travel put their expertise to work by volunteering to help community members get refunded for planned trips impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, saving many their money and lessening their worry. April 25
Youth volunteers from Good Shepherd Youth Outreach quickly pivoted to meet a community need in food insecurity by creating the Feed our Community program, where they can be found safely serving groceries to lines of cars every Thursday and first and third Saturday. Hear about their "why" in this video. "What I love about this effort is it shows youth of color doing something positive for others. Too often they are portrayed negatively in the media when this is more frequently the reality – they care for others and are giving of their time and energy. Thank you, Good Shepherd Youth Outreach for your great work – and especially for seeing a need and an opportunity to help young people learn the importance of service to others." Liahann Bannerman, Serve Washington Commissioner April 26
"Ready and in action with a mask, cape, and a hand sanitizer belt, I have enjoyed volunteering and wearing my Captain Quidel outfit while I have been a volunteer for the last couple of months," said United Way of King County volunteer, Lin Wilson. Lin also shares, "parents have become accustomed to my weekly visit, so I love seeing that they allow their kids to answer my knock, and these students always eagerly answer the door to see their latest lunch delivery. With each week I bring something new and nutritious, I can tell that they look forward to my visit and can count on me to provide their lunch, a thumbs up, and a jolly wave that keeps me coming back as Captain Quidel that cares about her community!"  You can't miss Lin delivering meals and education to children about staying healthy, just look for the superhero in her unmistakable car with a “flubug” on the roof. April 27
PeaceHealth's Black Allies Network Group (BANG) is an African American Employee Affinity Group comprised of a cross-section of executive leaders throughout the PeaceHealth organization. Their primary focus is to increase opportunities for marginalized communities and advance social justice. BANG has shown up as an amazing partner to Educational Opportunities for Children and Families through philanthropy, time, treasure and talent. Their partnership with EOCF has expanded and supported opportunities for our families and children. Not only have they provided hands-on support helping with our facilities' needs (installing new play structures, painting, cleaning, sprucing up sand boxes and tilling bark chips) they have provided mentorship opportunities for program parents, donated dozens of culturally specific books, and are active sponsors of our fundraisers.
BANG has made a long-term commitment to EOCF to continue their partnership and look for new ways to engage our community. Their commitment is strong and volunteer projects have included their CEO and members from outside regions. They have saved EOCF thousands of dollars in staff time that can be re-allocated to other agency critical needs, and have given thousands philanthropically to our agency. We are eternally grateful for their support and long-term commitment to EOCF.
April 28
This team of 30K+ people have rallied together to support Spokane restaurants and businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic. Rick Clark started the movement in March 2020, by putting out an ask to raise money to buy pizza, support a local restaurant, and feed 200 unhoused people in our community. It took off from there. Through collecting individual donations they have helped nearly 100 restaurants and put warm meals into the bellies of thousands of community members. In January 2021, they switched up and started highlighting local businesses in addition to restaurants. This has created awareness and support beyond the service industry. Beyond all of this, a community full of love and connection was born. In times where we are unable to connect in person and everything seems a little bit more difficult this group has shared love and connection with thousands of strangers who all make up one fantastic team - The Spokane Quaranteam. April 29
When the COVID-19 pandemic hit in the spring of 2020, donations weren't flowing and the senior population of volunteers were sent home. This combination of high demand for services and few volunteers to serve left local food banks in an impossible situation. Thanks to a robust communication strategy through newsletters and social media, the Puyallup Food Bank was able to secure new sources of volunteer labor and food donations. To hear them talk about it now, it seems as if they didn't miss a beat. In fact, it's possible the Puyallup Food Bank has more volunteers ready to serve today than it did a year ago before the pandemic hit. In the months of November and December of 2020, the Puyallup Food Bank served more than double the amount of clients compared to 2019. In December alone, they distributed more than 330,000 pounds of food, or 165 tons of essential groceries to help keep friends and neighbors fed during these difficult times. The Puyallup Food Bank are to be commended for rallying their community and generating support in a time so many others struggled to do the same. April 30