You’re invited to a Merriman-sponsored Earth Day planting event!

When: April 20th and April 27th, 2013, from 10:00 am – 2:00 pm

Where: McCormick Park in Duvall, WA

I am pleased to announce that Merriman employees and their families will be partnering with Sound Salmon Solutions to plant trees along the Snoqualmie River to help restore salmon habitat!

On April 20th and 27th, we will be working side by side with Sound Salmon Solutions staff and volunteers to restore salmon habitat at McCormick Park along the banks of the Snoqualmie River in downtown Duvall, WA.  Over 1,600 new trees need to be planted! These new trees will provide shade, erosion control, and essential food and habitat for the insects that rearing juvenile salmon need during multiple stages of their lives

If you are interested in making a positive impact on the future of salmon populations and our community, please come join us!  This is a unique site where volunteers will have the opportunity to see exactly how big of a positive impact their efforts will have on salmon recovery in as little as 5 years!

Please join us by emailing Dave@Merriman.com or signing up directly with Sound Salmon Solutions!

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Volunteering with Friends of the Cedar River Watershed

I consider myself very fortunate to work at Merriman for many reasons, two of them being our dedication to community involvement and our commitment to being a “green” organization. Merriman employees are given 100 hours per year to volunteer at other non-profit organizations during regular business hours. As someone who is passionate about watershed restoration and education, I have chosen to use my volunteer hours assisting Friends of the Cedar River Watershed.

Friends of the Cedar River Watershed has been a private, non-profit organization since 1996. Their mission is to engage people to enhance and sustain watersheds through restoration, education, and stewardship.

The Cedar River and Lake Washington Watershed is the land area in which rainwater drains to Lake Washington and out through the Hiram Chittenden Locks in Ballard. The watershed includes the Cedar River and its tributaries, May Creek, Coal Creek, Mercer Island, Mercer Slough, Kelsey Creek, Fairweather Creek, Yarrow Creek, Juanita Creek, Forbes Creek, Lyon Creek, McAleer Creek, Thornton Creek, Ravenna Creek, and Lake Washington. The river itself is about 45 miles long, originating in the Cascade Range near Abeil Peak, flowing generally west and northwest, emptying into the southern end of Lake Washington. The watershed is home to more than 83 species of fish and wildlife, including 14 species of concern, such as sockeye salmon, and the endangered Chinook salmon – it is considered to be one of the best remaining salmon habitats in King County.

So why exactly am I interested in helping Friends of the Cedar River Watershed carry out their mission? I was taught how to fly fish about 10 years ago and it quickly became a passion of mine. The best part of fishing, in my opinion, is not landing the biggest fish but simply being on the water. My fondest fishing memory is being on the banks of the Madison River in the Madison Valley of Montana, outside of Yellowstone National Park, and watching the sun set while listening to the fish munch on the latest hatch of insects. It is a day I’ll never forget and something I hope my future children and grandchildren will be able to experience.

Being able to live sustainably in places such as the Madison Valley, at home right here in Seattle, and everywhere in-between is very important for our future generations. The Cedar River/Lake Washington Watershed area is home to 22% of the population in the state of Washington. There are over 30 cities in the watershed and each of these cities is connected to the health of another and the greater whole. Think of it this way, if you live in the Cedar River/Lake Washington Watershed, everything you pour down the drain or onto the ground eventually gets to the river, making its way to one of the tributaries, and ultimately ending up in the Puget Sound. The connection between the people, the river, the lake, the sound, and the land is profound.

How can you help? Friends of the Cedar River Watershed offers a variety of events, programs, and services that you can learn more about on their website. They are always looking for volunteers and are currently looking for board members. I hope to see you there!

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Volunteering at Seattle Children’s Hospital

I volunteer once a week for Seattle Children’s Hospital in the Child Life Department. Part of my job as a volunteer is to visit inpatient children in their hospital rooms. The volunteer shift can include anything from holding a baby while the parent is away, playing Legos or coloring with a child, to reading and playing games with teenagers. If the child/teen is feeling well enough, we can bring them to the playroom where there are a variety of activities available for them.

Volunteering with Children’s hospital has really opened my eyes to how brave these children are. They are in a new place with new people coming in and out of their rooms, and sometimes their parents have to go to work so they are alone in their rooms for a good part of the day. Recently I was with a little girl who was very happy to have someone come to her room with coloring books, crafts, and a movie. For two hours we colored, made snowman crafts, and giggled at the silly Sponge Bob movie. Being able to give back and volunteer at Seattle Children’s hospital means so much to me. Every week I get to visit a different patient with a different circumstance and the fact that I have the privilege to bring some happiness into a sick child’s day by bringing them a toy, a game, a book, or just sitting and talking with them is one of the most rewarding feelings.

The motto at Seattle Children’s Hospital is “Hope. Care. Cure.” These words are not just words; they have built a culture for the people that work at the hospital. There is an incredible vibe throughout the hospital that these doctors, nurses, volunteers, and employees are dedicated to bringing hope to the lives of these children and families. As we approach this holiday season, I am thankful for good health in the lives of those around me and send thoughts of hope and happiness to those who may have to spend their holidays in a hospital with their loved ones.

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Volunteering for the Washington Trails Association

On Thursday, June 21st, Washingtonians saw what seemed like the first rays of sunshine peak through the clouds. It was the perfect day to experience the beautiful terrain our wonderful state has to offer. Luck would have it that I had previously scheduled this as a volunteer day with the Washington Trails Association (WTA). “Volunteer day,” you ask? You heard me right. As Merriman employees, we are each granted 100 volunteer hours per year. It is a way for us to give back to the organization(s) that matter the most to us.

For me, the choice is obvious. The WTA gets you outside and gives you the opportunity to meet a diverse group of people. Most importantly it preserves the trails that have exposed millions of people to the Washington wilderness.

For this trip, our group met at a local Park and Ride and carpooled 40 minutes east to the Franklin Falls trailhead located in the central Cascades. Our projects for the day included first cutting up an old tree that fell on the trail last winter, and then rebuilding the trail entrance. The first project was tougher than I anticipated. The tree was four feet in diameter and we had to use an old fashion crosscut saw (think circa 1900 logging photo) to cut it up. Luckily we were 8 people strong and with a few rotations our crew managed to clear the trail.

The driving force behind our second project was a grant given to the WTA to make trails wheelchair accessible. This translated into using rock from a scree field to widen the entrance. We then put a layer of fine gravel on top to smooth it out.

By the end of the day we had accomplished what we set out to do. It was time to head back home and plan our next volunteer outing.

Whether it is a one day work party or a week long “volunteer vacation” it’s not all about work. The experience of meeting new people, relaxing in a beautiful location and connecting with the environment makes volunteer work with the WTA a truly unique experience.

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The house that Merriman is building (UPDATE)

If you are a regular reader of our blog, you may remember that a group of Merriman employees have been using our volunteer hours with Habitat for Humanity at the Rainer Vista location. The house was scheduled for completion in December, but we finished greatly ahead of schedule and the ribbon cutting ceremony was held on Sunday, October 2nd!

Having now completed our first Habitat house as a team, there is much to reflect on.  Was the work strenuous and tiring?  Yes.  Did the notoriously fickle Washington weather make things uncomfortable?  Frequently.  Were we always sore at the end of the day?  Definitely.  But did our team leave the worksite every single day with smiles on our faces?  Absolutely.  Would we ever choose to use our volunteer hours with Habitat in the future?  In a heartbeat.  This relationship that we have built with Habitat as well as the new inhabitants of the four-plex we  and other volunteers worked side by side with for the whole year has been unfathomably rewarding as well as productive. (more…)

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Is volunteering worth your time and energy?

A majority of my clients are in retirement or they will be retired within the next 5 years or so.   These relationships give me some great insight in to what retirement can be, for better or for worse.  I have found over the years that my healthiest and even more importantly, happiest clients in retirement are those who are quite busy.  I am often told that they do not know how they had the time to work as they feel even busier now and they are loving it!

Most of these busy individuals are doing some sort of volunteer work.  You have probably heard people say that as a volunteer they get more out of it than they feel the person or organization they are helping is gaining from the relationship. And if you have given some of your time and energy to someone besides yourself, you know this to be true.

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