Seattle Works

A blog that documents all things Seattle Works…and much much more!

Team Works, in the holiday spirit December 21, 2009

Filed under: Team Works,Volunteer — seattleworks @ 7:55 pm

They’re serving food and collecting donations:

From TW.Q4.2009-Team Works
From TW.Q4.2009-Team Works

They’re exchanging gifts with one another, and donating gifts.

From TW.Q4.2009-Team Works

They’re building a human Christmas Tree?

From TW.Q4.2009-Team Works

Oh Team Works teams, how we love you.

p.s. registration for our January-April round opens on Tuesday, 12/22!


Team Happy Hours at the North Helpline Food Bank

Filed under: Team Works,Volunteer — seattleworks @ 7:20 pm

This month my team and I volunteered at the North Helpline Food Bank. This was actually one of the first projects where we interacted with people who directly benefited from the services being provided (most times the organization is closed on the day we are there, or we are helping organize/clean up behind the scenes). It was very rewarding to have the opportunity to talk with the people coming to the food bank.

It was an eye opener to see how many people come through the food bank line in even just one shift and to think that this might be the only place they are getting food for the week. I was glad to see that the food bank was able to hand out fresh fruits and vegetables because that is so important and I know some food banks aren’t able to do so due to storage/food spoilage etc.

The highlight of the day was when a little 4 year-old boy named Cody, who was going through the line with his mom and sister, jumped up on the table to give me a big hug and tell me that he loved me. This was after knowing him for all of 45 seconds, but it was so heartfelt and definitely put a smile on my face. I can’t wait to have a chance to go help out at the food bank again and was glad to hear that they are moving to a new location in January that is much much larger and will allow them to help even more people on a weekly basis.

– Cameron, Team Happy Hours

From TW.Q4.2009-Team Works

Part of something bigger. December 16, 2009

Filed under: Service Trips — seattleworks @ 8:47 pm

We’d just eaten an amazing meal of fresh fish and vegetables and rice. Oh, so much rice. We sat on the floor of our homestay in Tung Dap with our Moken hosts; Beautiful, airy beams; A home built by hand.

Our host asked us why we were there.

Why would ten farangs take two weeks to travel to the other side of the globe to spend a few days painting a school and planting mangroves?

Jan’s answer, as I paraphrase, was about family. In our culture we don’t live, with multiple familial generations, under the same roof. But we still seek that connection. That community.

We want to be part of something bigger than ourselves.

I’ve been taking these service trips through Seattle Works since they first gathered a group of people together to travel to Biloxi, MS in early 2007. It had been a year and a half since the storm devastated the Gulf Coast. I was deeply moved when I watched the storm coverage. I was glued to the TV, thinking about my cousins who live in Biloxi, thinking about the beautiful city of New Orleans I’d visited a few times with my family before the storm. So when Seattle Works decided to send a group to help hang drywall, I knew I had to sign up.

We stayed at a big church, most of us sleeping on mats on the floor. Taking four minute outdoor showers. Hanging drywall. Cleaning a nearby neighborhood. Meeting longterm volunteers who’d been there since just after the storm. Spending some time at the pub next door, playing cards – Apples to Apples. Being genuinely inspired by fellow humans from various walks of life.

One of our first nights there, a gentleman named David, who had just celebrated his 60th birthday by volunteering with his family in Biloxi, shared about Tikkun Olam.

“… There’s an important principle in Judaism – it’s a commandment of Jewish law – called Tikkun Olam. Tikkun Olam means to repair the world. The Talmud says: “It is not up to you to finish the work, yet you are not free to avoid it.” No one can fix it all; but we all have a part to play. What’s going on down here could not be more important as an example of Tikkun Olam.”

Upon our departure, I realized that experience changed me. I was definitely part of something bigger than myself.

I returned to the Gulf Coast that summer. Spending a week in New Orleans volunteering with Katrina Corps. Then went back once more, right before Mardi Gras, volunteering with Hands on New Orleans.

Seattle Works partnered with Crooked Trails last year, sending a team to Peru. I had some friends go and was convinced to take these experiences abroad. So, despite feeling like I had no vacation time and no extra money, I signed up to go to Thailand.

Thailand was amazing.

Now that I’ve been back a few weeks, I’ve been thinking a lot about what makes these experiences so powerful. It isn’t just where we’re going or the work we’re doing.

It’s the people.

I’ve met some remarkable people in the Seattle Works community. Spending time traveling, serving, and bonding over beers (whether Chang or Abita!) takes you into some pretty profound relationships in a short amount of time. You learn a lot about someone when you’re spending every day with them. Often in less than luxurious accomodations. Challenging days. Sharing in breathtaking vistas. Reflecting on the work you’re doing, the people you’re meeting. Remembering what’s important. Finding shared values.

Then these lovely, overlapping social circles emerge when we’re all back in Seattle. You take a group of volunteers and recruit them for your kickball team. You take a soccer team and recruit them for your volunteer project. Before you know it, you’re attending feasts in church basements and friending inanimate objects on Facebook.

At some point, you’re not just a part of something bigger than yourself. You’re creating it.

– Noelle Smithhart


More Team Works pics December 3, 2009

Filed under: Team Works,Volunteer — seattleworks @ 3:36 am

We got two more team photos this week.

From TW.2009-Team Work

Team Younger & Wiser, in tree-hugger mode

From TW.2009-Team Work

Team Happy Hours, post-project at the Luna Park Cafe

No, it’s not a Team Works requirement that you be highly photogenic. But it definitely seems to be working out that way… even the rain can’t keep these folks from looking good.


Green Mountain Coffee gave us $15k, and two hairnets

Filed under: Grab bag,Support Seattle Works — seattleworks @ 3:25 am

Few things make a small nonprofit happier than a generous grant from a new funder!

Green Mountain Coffee, headquartered in Vermont, opened a new plant in Sumner, WA, and made gifts to a few nonprofits serving the greater Seattle area in honor of their coming to the Pacific Northwest. We were in good company, with United Way, Facing the Future, Northwest Harvest and Food Lifeline.

Yesterday, Steph and I went to the ribbon-cutting and took a tour of the new facility (hairnets required, their coffee is clean!). Unfortunately we forgot our camera, but attempted to re-capture the moment in the office today.



People we will miss: Sungwoo, William, Kelly

Filed under: Grab bag,Our Team — seattleworks @ 3:13 am

 Big wheel keep on turning – yesterday we officially bid farewell to rock start interns SungWoo and William.

SungWoo just wrapped up a study abroad program at UW, expanding his English skills. The program requires an internship at an organization of the student’s choosing, and darn if he didn’t reach out to Seattle Works. SungWoo pitched in on a range of administrative tasks, managing our photos (notice how much cuter our blog has been lately?), data entry and mailings. He is headed back home to South Korea and we will miss him!!

As luck (or lack thereof) would have it, yesterday also marked the last day for William. Sad! Like SungWoo, William showed the moxie to seek us out when pursuing a student internship requirement. In this case, William headed across the country from the University of Georgia, where he’s wrapping up a Masters in Nonprofit Organizations.

As luck really did have it, William contacted us just as we were determining how we would staff The Bridge this fall in an uncertain economic climate (we downsized our staff earlier this year). Enter an eager and bright student with expertise in nonprofit leadership and available for free! Pennies from heaven we said. You rocked it William, and we are so thankful. You brought new insights to the program, and gave our organization time to plan and conserve resources these past few months.

p.s. William is looking for a job and he is fantastic.  Are you hiring?

Kelly, William and Tyler, Ballot Party 09

That leaves us with Kelly, who didn’t have an official last day but wound things down after Swank and most definitely deserves some kudos. Kelly transferred from school on the east coast to UW, and gave a whole lot of time to Seattle Works in the transition period. Kelly was our event logistics guru, coming in just before Seattle Works Day to get our hundreds of t-shirts and project supplies in order, staffing the AfterParty with both calmness and a fierce work ethic, and then hanging around to manage the data surrounding all our Swank auction item donations and generally helping to keep me (somewhat) sane through the event planning.

Kelly & Kym, Swank 09

p.s. again – Kelly turns 21 on December 13! We can’t wait to take her out for a drink.

These three fabulous folks brought new energy and ideas to our team. All go-getters, and all surprisingly unflappable. Our kind of people!