December 5, is International Volunteer Day. Hear from some of our volunteers. Written by Volunteer Susan Fitzgerald.
From watching children grow and develop to fostering the growth and development of LifeWorks NW itself, volunteers are involved.
“From our many students to our board committee members, to Children’s Relief Nursery volunteers, LifeWorks NW deeply appreciates volunteers offering their time, passion and expertise to support our mission,’ says LifeWorks NW President/CEO Mary Monnat. “We are so much stronger for their efforts.”
In recognition of International Volunteer Day, Dec. 5, we asked a few of our volunteers to talk about their work here and what it means to them.
Chris, Children’s Relief Nursery, St. Johns
“I’ve long been interested in kids,” says Chris. He had volunteered with a SMART reading program and spent a lot of time with his toddler granddaughter.
“I find it so fascinating to watch young children in the development stage,” he said, “watching them grow and learn and make connections.”
After retiring as a software engineer, he checked with United Way for opportunities to work with children. He found a position with the Children’s Relief Nursery at St. Johns.
“This was exactly what I wanted to do, and it was icing on the cake that they actually needed me!”
Volunteering at St Johns, he finds, “Kids need attention, and they respond to attention from adults. They learn to get along and behave and become different people.” The bonus for Chris is that he becomes different, too.
“When I’m around here, I change completely. I’m open and expressive, which is good for me. I can be as silly as I want to be, and they eat it up. I’m sure I get more out of it than they do. I can give 100 percent for four hours. Then I need to go home and take a nap.”
Deborah, former member of Board of Directors, currently on Marketing and Development Committee
“I really believe in the people of LifeWorks NW and the value of their work,” Deborah says. “We’ve all witnessed the effects of mental illness and I wanted to be part of the solution.
“Over the past 15 years, I’ve served on various committees, attended fundraisers, taken site tours, and had the honor to serve on the board for six years. During that time, I met dozens of amazing, mission-driven people who work for LifeWorks NW and have an outsized impact on our community.
“They continually inspire me with the strength and healing they bring. LifeWorks NW can be life-changing because they see the whole person, beyond mental illness, and help with factors that support healing, like housing and work.
“I feel grateful to have experienced so many memorable moments, most especially the testimony from LifeWorks NW ‘grads.’ When they talk about what they went through and how they began to heal and keep coming back to learn and grow and thrive, well, it’s a joy to experience for someone who’s been working from home behind a laptop for over a decade. I’m even more inspired by the many LifeWorks NW grads who now work for LifeWorks NW. That’s so cool!
“Perhaps because I’m a systems person, I’ve always been impressed by LifeWorks NW’s evidence-based approach, and I’ve enjoyed working on various projects over the years, but it always comes back to the people at LifeWorks NW and the amazing work they do in our community. I’m proud to be a small part of it.”
Susan, Marketing and Communications writer
“My profession as a writer gave me a strong sense of purpose,” says Susan. “I’ve written a lot about addiction and mental health over the years, always bearing in mind the impact those issues have had on my family, among millions of others.
“Volunteering at LifeWorks NW gives me a way to continue that work. Writers always hope to make a difference and in this new role, I have a chance to contribute a tiny bit to the vast good work done here. But I have selfish reasons too. This opportunity helps fend off isolation in retirement and connects me to something bigger than myself. Like many volunteers, I feel like I get more out of it than I give.”