Seattle Works

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

Volunteer Service Trip to Peru Where “One Week Just Wasn’t Enough” November 9, 2012

Filed under: Service Trips,Volunteer — seattleworks @ 3:46 pm

A view of Vicos, Peru.

We’re back! From October 19 to 29, a team of seven volunteers joined the 2012 Crooked Trails Service Trip with Seattle Works, traveling to Vicos, Peru. Our group had the opportunity to participate in an incredible cultural exchange experience and lend our support to an amazing project: building improved stoves for local families.

Here’s some history behind this project: Last year, Pablo Tadeo Cilio, a member of the Vicos tourism association (and one of our homestay hosts),  saw a model of a stove that could replace the open-fire cooking that is common in many households. It occurred to him that such a stove would be easy to build in Vicos using almost entirely local materials and building practices- an important consideration, since the main goal of the community’s tourism initiative is to promote environmental, cultural, social and economic sustainability. Furthermore, the stoves could be funded in part through volunteer tourism, and would significantly improve environmental and health conditions in local homes. So he went home and built a prototype in his kitchen (really), and created a design that could be adapted to the needs of each house in which it was built. (Read more about the project from Peru-based partner organization Respons here.)

Pablo and one of the homeowners in front of a newly constructed stove.

The Vicos tourism association conducted a community evaluation to identify families that would significantly benefit from a cocina mejorada (“better kitchen”), focusing on serving households headed by single mothers and families with many children. Selected families made their own adobe bricks to contribute to the project, and the individual women who would primarily be using the stoves gave significant input as to what design would work best for each of them. Our team felt privileged to be able to learn about the skills needed to build with adobe, and to have a chance to try our hand at mixing mud, stacking bricks, and pitching in wherever we could! In just a couple of days, we assisted in constructing eight new stoves in collaboration with many dedicated community members.

It wasn’t all hard work, though! In addition to the service project, we had the opportunity to enjoy Vicos and the surrounding area. We stayed with host families with whom we shared meals and chats around the fire in the evenings. And the day after we finished working on the stoves, members of the tourism association guided us on two incredible hikes. One group saw local ruins and learned about medicinal plants. And a few of us participated in an intense trek to over 14,000 feet, where we got a close-up look at a glacier and even got to see some cave paintings.

Our guide, Pedro, who is part of the Vicos tourism association, helped members of our group make it up to a glacier at about 14,000 feet.

On our last day, our hosts threw us a huge goodbye party, which made leaving Vicos all the more difficult. Many of us have talked about returning someday to reunite with our homestay families and enjoy the stunningly beautiful Andes mountains. One week just wasn’t enough.

After we departed Vicos, we spent a day relaxing in the city of Huaraz. And since no Seattle Works adventure would be complete without a little beer, we celebrated at the Sierra Andina Brewing Company.

Ursula and Joey enjoy local beer at the Huaraz brewery to celebrate the end of a successful trip.

Thanks to everyone who helped make this year’s service trip an amazing experience!



Service trip to Peru with Crooked Trails: Deadline extended to Tues 9/11! September 6, 2012

Filed under: Service Trips — seattleworks @ 9:56 am

Join a team of traveling volunteers to Vicos, Peru, a small town in the beautiful Andes mountains. The deadline has been extended to this Tuesday, September 11th! This trip is being planned by Crooked Trails, a local nonprofit with years of expertise in global travel, service, and cultural exchange.

In Vicos, volunteers will work alongside community members to build “smokeless ovens.” Traditional Andean kitchens are open fire pits, which cause a lot of health problems due to smoke inhalation and require lots of wood. These new kitchens include a new stove, constructed in adobe with a chimney to carry the smoke outside improving family health, saving money and conserving natural resources.

The itinerary also includes adventurous options such as rock climbing, rafting, biking, checking out historic art districts, amazing sea cliff views and more. Top it off with an extension to the breathtaking Machu Picchu at the end of the program and you’ve got a great opportunity to explore, have fun and travel with a purpose!

For more details about the trip and to apply, visit and contact Angela Dollar at Hope to see you in Peru!

Volunteers making new friends in Vicos, Peru.


Summer HandsOn Leadership kickoff, hooray! June 26, 2012

Filed under: HandsOn Leadership,Lead — seattleworks @ 4:44 pm

Last Thursday, eight dedicated HandsOn Leadership volunteers officially started work on three new projects, which they’ll be managing over the next few months. These volunteers recently participated in our first-ever HandsOn Leadership course to be offered on Saturdays instead of weeknights. They received training in project management, community engagement, fundraising, volunteer management, and leadership in order to prepare themselves to manage real-life projects for local organizations.

This round’s projects include:

  • Coordinating community outreach and planning a grand opening event for a new school playground at John Muir Elementary
  • Working with Seattle Center Foundation to help promote and increase community participation in three upcoming Seattle Takes Care events: World Vision School Kits Activity Tent, Union Gospel Mission Sock & Pant Drive, and the Operation Homefront Baby Shower for Military Families
  • Managing fundraising initiatives for Undriving, an organization that encourages use of car-free transportation options.

HandsOn Leadership volunteers, L-R: Howard, Rochelle, Alonzo, Mariam, Kai, Iris, and George.

Congratulations to our volunteers and project partners! You can read about past HandsOn Leadership project kickoffs here and here, or learn more about HandsOn Leadership.


Transitional Resources Thanks “The A Team!” May 24, 2012

Filed under: Team Works,Volunteer — seattleworks @ 7:25 pm

The volunteers lathered on the sunscreen, rolled up their sleeves (or, in one volunteer’s case, put on his raingear to pressure wash our greenhouse) and got our gardens in shape for summer! They weeded, planted flowers (donated by Bel-R Nursery), shoveled (and hauled, and spread) organic compost, put down rows of burlap sacks for walkways, and pressure washed our greenhouse. The team accomplished an incredible amount in a short period of time, and for that we’re truly grateful. They also expressed interest in the work we do, which is helping men and women who are living with severe and persistent mental illness.  Many of our clients worked alongside the volunteers throughout the afternoon, as they do during weekly Garden Group. Much of the produce they will grow and harvest this summer will be donated to the West Seattle Food Bank – providing fresh, healthy, and organic food to a sector of the public that may not otherwise have access to it.

-Yemaya St.Clair, Transitional Resources






Team Vittana’s HandsOn Leadership project complete! May 15, 2012

Filed under: HandsOn Leadership,Lead — seattleworks @ 5:36 pm

HOL volunteer, Jordan Bailey, and Vittana Community and Culture Manager Sophie Kauffman at the volunteer Open House that the HOL team helped organize

We’re so proud! In January, three awesome HandsOn Leadership volunteers – Jordan Bailey, Kathy Brustad, and Kenny Lee – started their work on a project with our also-awesome partner Vittana. Their goal: To manage an initiative to recruit new volunteers who could translate and edit profiles of students around the world who are seeking loans for higher education. The team wrapped up their project last month, and here’s what they have to say about what they accomplished:


“Our challenge was to recruit qualified volunteers, in order to keep the magic of philanthropy churning for Vittana. We knew that posting ads in the traditional volunteer recruiting channels would garner interest, but Vittana was looking for that special team of volunteers that matched Vittana’s vision and culture which consisted of ‘startup mentality’ and ‘change the world through education.’

We specifically targeted working professionals from 2 major corporations in the Pacific Northwest: Boeing and Microsoft. And even within each of the corporations, we shared the volunteer opportunities to targeted organizations….As a result, we had nearly a dozen potential volunteers show up at Vittana’s very first volunteer recruiting/training event, which we also helped organize. In addition, we created training videos so that volunteers can be introduced to Vittana’s translation programs and get up and running with minimal oversight.

Hands On Leadership was definitely a success for both the volunteers and Vittana. Ultimately, it was a great match of volunteer skillsets and personalities, which led to the resounding success of this project.”


All in all, the team recruited 32 new volunteers who have translated hundreds of student profiles. Amazing! You can read what Vittana has to say about the project and see some more photos on their blog. Thanks to the volunteers and Vittana staff who worked so hard to make this project a huge success!

Want to get in on the HandsOn Leadership action? We’ve got another training session kicking off in May and another weekend option in June:


#SWDay Update and Packing Party!

Filed under: Seattle Works Day,Volunteer — seattleworks @ 12:47 am
Tags: , , ,

It was a party up in here today… a packing party that is!  We had shirts and KIND snacks galore delivered last week so today the Seattle Works team went to work!  We printed and counted and sorted like crazy – but now we are SO READY for OMG SWD this Saturday.

All 33 project sites have plenty of SWD event shirts, delicious KIND bars, name tags, markers, sign-in sheets, directions to the AfterParty, waivers and all the good things a volunteer project needs to make sure the experience is an amazing one.

Bring it on.

If you haven’t signed up yet, it’s not too late.  Don’t worry, we threw in a ton of extra stuff for each site just in case you signed up!

You’re not going to want to miss out on this day – sign up now:

Seattle Works team members Tyler, Percival and Ellen lend helpful hands (and hoofs) to the packing extravaganza.


Thanks, Volunbeers! May 10, 2012

Filed under: Team Works,Volunteer — seattleworks @ 6:20 pm

Last Saturday, one of our newest Team Works teams, the Volunbeers, helped the Phinney Neighborhood Association get ready for their annual fundraising auction. Take a look at the fun photos they sent us!

Team members setting up the tent space for PNA’s live auction.

Lauren’s pretty excited about distributing plates to each of the tables.

Alison and Stephanie turned PNA’s Wagon-O-Wine into a much-desired auction item.

The team surrounded by the fruits of its labor! From L to R: Ken, Dionna, Alison, Kevin, Lauren, Ellie, Erin and Stephanie.