Stories for United Way

Volunteers nurture compassion throughout community

 

 Submitted by Kizzie Funkhouser

We are fellow volunteers that serve those in need,

Farmers of hope, we’re planting the seeds –

Weeding out obstacles when lives’ pathways are blocked.

Standing together, our diverse strands, woven to stalks

Of goodwill and compassion we nurture,

Strong – rooted in belief that every life matters

That dignity and respect have no boundaries or status.

We are young, we are old, yet we are the same

Our vision not of the chore, we see the faces, know names,

Know the look of appreciation and the sighs of relief,

Volunteers motivate, because we believe –

That making a difference is within our reach.

We are driven in faith that we can improve,

The quality of one’s life, it touches us too.

We are volunteers, we just are, we just do.

The man in the store without help, he can’t read the labels

But can cook up a meal befit the KINGS table,

There’s a woman independent but can no longer drive

Her eyes, they light up when you simply arrive.

Volunteers are a blessing, they just are, they just do.

 

Here are a few of our stories that represent the essence of volunteerism.

We extend our thanks to all volunteers whose compassion always gets the gold.

Let the games begin.

Gifts of Compassion from Volunteer Chore Services volunteers

Three stories

Living alone at age 90 is a challenge. With a limited income and her nearest family in Vancouver, she counts on VCS volunteers to help keep the home in shape, take her grocery shopping and to medical appointments. One volunteer visits weekly to vacuum, mop, fold laundry and change bed linens.

At 84, she is partially sighted and living with arthritis. She confided her fear that her yard would be “what sends me to a nursing home, because they say I can’t take care of it.” VCS volunteers totaled 100 hours that summer clearing her yard of weeds, blackberries, and debris, so that she is able to walk into her garden again.

 Living with stage 4 cancer and fighting through chemo treatments leaves him with very little energy. With the rainy season nearing, he knew the gutters needed cleaning but could no longer safely climb a ladder. VCS volunteers cleaned the gutters, swept off the roof and repaired some damaged spouts. He said they did a fabulous job and was so appreciative, not just for the work completed, but for the kind spirit in which it was offered.

 Volunteer Chore Services volunteers provided an average of 3,972 hours of assistance each month throughout King County last year, helping with housework, laundry, shopping, transportation, minor home repair and yard work.

 

 

What’s good? Volunteers in record numbers show compassion

Submitted by What’s Good ‘206’?

Some painted walls, others cleaned a preschool inside and out. Others pulled yard cleanup duty. All told, there were more than 12,000 of them — people who came out on Sept. 21, United Way of King County’s biggest ever Day of Caring and the launch of the Compassion Games.

Take a look by the numbers:
  • Total volunteers: 12,122
  • Total companies represented: 138
  • Total projects completed: 448
  • Total hours of labor: 59,737
  • Total value of work: $1.3 million

It was also the first time Compassion Games: Survival of the Kindest, sponsored by Compassionate Seattle, collaborated with United Way of King County to inspire people to help, heal and inspire the community. Sept. 21 was the kickoff date for the Compassion Games, which continue through Oct. 21, and include many ways to give back and celebrate the community we live in.

Listen as your community talks about how we could all become more compassionate, and what would encourage us to volunteer more.

This video was produced by Austin Williams and Alyssa Piraino of What’s Good ‘206’?, an organization that features young people producing stories about how their peers are doing good and compassionate service in the world and helping to shape the leaders of tomorrow.


Why Stories of Compassion Matter

By Gary Davis

Our society is fascinated by entertainers, sports heroes and lawbreakers. Glance at the “most read” list on most any online news site and you’ll find it overwhelmingly populated with articles that are variations on those themes. This isn’t a new trend. But what does it say about the stories we value, or to what we give our precious attention?

“People become the stories they hear and the stories they tell,” writes author and activist Elie Wiesel. We agree.  Since most children don’t grow up to be entertainers or sports heroes, we’re telegraphing to them a dangerous message: fame – and even infamy – is what matters. No wonder, then, as we continue to click on reports of celebrity or crime, money-strapped news organizations continue to feed us an endless supply of those stories. In short, it seems, we get what we “click,” upholding the axiom that whatever we give our attention gets bigger.

In this election year we’re also frequently reminded about our political and social divides. Yes, there are important issues and real divisions, but that’s an old story, and it’s demoralizing. Rather than spurring us to action, our continual political stalemates deflate us into non-action, isolation, and cynicism.

As current and former media professionals, with many years of experience in online, broadcast and print journalism, a group of us have come together in a belief that our community can do better. We see everyday ‘celebrities’ all around us, people whose stories, if told, can bridge divided communities, generate ideas to improve our collective lives, and inspire others to meaningful action.  Such stories can make a difference for a neighbor, a neighborhood, a city or a state. We believe most people are looking for inspiration and solutions from their everyday world, the one to which they belong, where they have a chance to make a positive impact. They are looking for stories that at their heart involve compassion.

So how do we get there? We’ve come up with an idea for a starting point, and it kicks off in mid-September.  “Stories of Compassion” is a storytelling competition for everyone in the greater Seattle region: student and professional journalists, bloggers, nonprofit groups who provide basic needs, businesses engaged in their communities, education projects, interfaith and faith-related outreach, poets, photographers and videographers.  The contest is about strengthening our greater community through the stories we tell about the lives we lead.

“Stories of Compassion” is part of an umbrella effort called “Compassion Games: Survival of the Kindest,” and it begins September 21st.  The Games are sponsored by Compassionate Seattle, United Way of King County, the City of Seattle and King County. They are intended as both a fun and serious way to renew regional dialog about the value of compassionate action in our personal lives and in our communities. Opening day coincides with United Way of King County’s “Day of Giving,” one of the great compassion efforts our community participates in every year. Contest entries will be posted online at the Compassion Games site, a gallery for all to read, see and share. Winners will be announced later this fall. But it won’t end there.

“Stories of Compassion” and “Compassion Games” are meant to continue and expand a regional conversation about ways to foster compassionate action. Four years ago, the Dalai Lama and South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu visited Seattle to talk about the need for a more compassionate world, and tens of thousands of people pledged to identify, uphold and actively cultivate compassion in their communities. Inspired by their message against a backdrop of deeply partisan political and economic division, local organizations Compassionate Seattle and Compassionate Action Network International gelled around the message that compassion can bridge differences, create understanding and foster peace.

In 2010, Seattle became the first city in the world to affirm the Charter for Compassion, a document supporting compassion as the central tenet – the Golden Rule – among the world’s peoples, a necessary undertaking to encourage peace, nonviolence and understanding.

Other cities have followed Seattle’s lead, including Louisville, Kentucky. Recently, Louisville proudly counted more than 90,000 compassionate acts in one week. Now, they’ve thrown the challenge our way, and the Compassion Games is Seattle’s response. There are many ways to take part, and “Stories of Compassion” is but one.

To be clear, we are not arguing that stories about compassion aren’t being told. They are, every day, across varied mediums both local and national.  But they are drowned in the daily tidal wave of violence and name-calling that too often is packaged as the day’s news.  We’d like to see more stories that point us toward solutions to problems that plague our communities, and to make those stories easier for anyone to find. We intend to maintain a web presence that continues to collect these stories, an easy way to locate and share them well beyond the competition.

We envision a future when such stories dominate the “most read” list on news sites.

If we can give some attention to stories that matter, stories that bridge the divides between us and show us everyday solutions and pathways to alleviating suffering in our own community, then we can strengthen our communities. We encourage you to contribute your stories of compassion, for we cannot learn what we haven’t shared.

Note: Stories of Compassion editors’ group includes Gary Davis, Associate Executive Director at Seattle nonprofit Companis and longtime public radio reporter/editor and current news host for KPLU/NPR;  Anne Stadler, former KING/NBC public affairs veteran;  Rita Hibbard, executive director of Compassionate Action Network International and former Seattle Post-Intelligencer editor and co-founder of InvestigateWest, an investigative online journalism nonprofit;  Brook Stanford,   three-decade KOMO/ABC reporter; Chris Tugwell, YMCA Regional Director of Education, Employment and Technology programs, and editor of the community youth blog Puget SoundOff; and Marilyn Turkovich, director of Voices Education Project.

 

 

Taking On the Challenge from Louisville, Kentucky

Compassionate Louisville: The Community Challenge

The inspiration for the Compassion Games comes from our friends in Louisville, Kentucky.  Mayor Greg Fischer and his team are implementing their compassionate cities program in a remarkable fashion.   After Seattle affirmed the Charter for Compassion and invited other cities around the world to join with us in creating 10 Year Campaigns for Compassionate Cities, Louisville was one of the first and by far the most developed cities campaign we encountered. The Compassionate Action Network International awarded them the International Compassionate City award in 2012.

Mayor Greg Fischer would welcome a rivalry. “I’ve said from day one that we’re going to pursue being recognized as the most compassionate city in the world – and if that prods other cities to try to outdo us, then ‘Game On.’ In a competition centered on compassion, everyone wins!”

Compassionate Louisville recently amassed over 90,000 hours of community service during their one-week long Give a Day program.  We’re following their lead and measuring the number of hours of community service and are encouraging other cities to agree upon this simple measure of hours of community service.  From their community challenge:

“We challenge you to volunteer more, to give more blood, to share more resources and to top our collective mark with the goal of leaving our world a better place. If a city tops us, next year we will step up our devotion because we know that in our garden of compassion, there is still rocky soil and arid places that need tending; and there always will be. We are not so naive as to think this is not a community with more than its fair share of pain and suffering. We know it is. We, however,believe compassion is good soil for the garden of community.”

“All I have tried to do,” Fischer said, “is pull the good hearts and good hands of Louisville together. From our cathedrals to our temples and mosques, from the Muhammad Ali Center to our Christian seminaries, we are a community that is built on faith, love and tolerance. This is who we’ve always been. All I’m doing is rallying the troops.”

Of course, Louisville has also been extremely compassionate in their support of us and other cities taking on this challenge. It has made all their materials available and if you’re interested you can access them here.  You can watch a video of their Livable City Award and their issuing the Community Challenge.  And yes Tom we intend to kick your butts!