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.

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.

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…)

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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