Archive for compassionate action

Help plant a garden of compassion at Rainier Vista Boys & Girls Club

By Jon Ramer


The Rainier Vista Boys and Girls Club needs you.

Dedicated school chef Patrice Freeman shops the sales to feed her hungry troupe, but she has a dream, to feed her boys and girls with fresh fruit and vegetables from a bountiful school garden. She has the space, and she’s looking for donations of soil and the materials to create eight to 10 large planters for the garden and fill them with rich planting soil for the 2013 spring and summer.

The club is budget challenged. On the day of our visit, we dropped off a ream of copy paper because the club had run out. But it serves a great need. And now it needs our help.


He lived compassion at life’s end

By Alanna Gunne

Lying in his bed, he listened to the sounds of life.  He could smell the pot roast cooking in the kitchen and hear his housemates moving through the halls.  A movie was playing on his VCR and he was comfortable.  He had not envisioned his life this way.  He loved the beach and the sunshine.  He loved his work and his many friends knew him as a passionate foodie.  Assisted by his pain medications, he often dreamed of those days.  In a way it was a gift because he could live in whichever memory he chose – and he chose the best ones every time.

Chris Hawkins was pretty sure he would not live much longer – although over the years he had entertained this possibility countless times and still – here he was.  Thinking of ‘life’ he sometimes counted off the living that he could no longer accomplish.  First of all, he was blind – so he could no longer watch his beloved movies or see the smiles on his friends’ faces.  His frame was skeletal and he could no longer walk.  His kidneys were shutting down so his ‘big day out’ was going to the clinic for dialysis.  All of his physical and social needs were supported by the staff and volunteers at Rosehedge – his home for 14 years.

Compassion.  That was the word Chris used to describe the lifeblood that kept him going – countless acts of compassion and love.  The house cook stopped by his room regularly to chat and find out what he felt like eating.  They had long foodie talks and had become real pals.  CareTeam volunteers sat with him, sharing movies and conversation.  One older gentleman became his best friend.  With the help of a wheelchair, they would roam the neighborhood.  He would feel the fresh air on his face and listen to the kids as they raced home after school.  The nursing staff loved Chris – in fact, everyone loved him because he was so ready with a smile and encouraging word even when the days were hard to live through.

One evening, he fell asleep listening to a movie.  The nurse came in to see him and realized that he was in crisis.  That night Chris left his body in the local emergency room and was suddenly free of pain and restriction.  Those he left behind mourned.

Chris’ memorial service was held on a sunny afternoon at the church across the street from his home.  His family came from California and Portland; his friends came just as far. His father, who was in the hospital at the time, attended the service via Skype. One of his former house nurses came from Bellingham.  There were house staff, volunteers and housemates – all gathered to honor him, remember his life and support each other in their grief.  His 8-year-old nephew played the violin.  Memories were shared and the healing began.

And as Chris watched this gathering of people who had touched his life, he recognized that he was right all along.  His world was COMPASSION.

 Alanna Gunne is a  Companis Worker placed with Rosehedge/Multifaith Works,  which serves those living HIV/AIDS by providing housing, compassionate health care and supportive services that enhance the quality of their lives.

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.



brother’s compassion for his sisters is a life lesson

By Lee Campbell

There was a man named Joe Earl. He was born in 1911 in a small town near the Mississippi River. His father died of an unspecified illness when he was a toddler. His mother, Mollie Bodi, remarried and  had two daughters, Ida Mae and Delores. Mollie’s second husband died in an accident in a Missouri mine. She married a third time to a man whose last name was Dockins and had four more daughters. In approximately 1925, she died while giving birth to a baby boy. After her death, Mr. Dockins took the eight children from Missouri to California where he had relatives. When he reached California he took the eight children to various family member of his, parceled them out and disappeared.

The eight children were not happy in their new homes and they were not happy being separated from one another. After they struggled in their new environment for many months, possibly as long as a year, Joe, then 15-years-old, went around to all the children and said, “You Dockins children have to stay here in California because these are your relatives, but I am taking Ida Mae and Delores with me and we are going back to Missouri.”

So this teenage boy scraped together enough money to buy tickets on the train for himself and two adolescent girls to travel from California to Missouri;  he begged from strangers in order to feed the three of them and when they finally reached Missouri he took  his half-sisters to relatives until he could find a home for each of them, then he went to another relative and asked for a home for himself. I didn’t hear this story from Joe Earl. When I was a teenager myself, my Aunt Delores told me, with tears in her eyes, of the great love she and her sister Ida Mae had for their brother, Joe.

My father, Joe Earl, was an amazing man, who taught me much about listening to people, hearing their words, and understanding the value of their stories and their lives.

Lee Campbell lives in Lake Forest Park and is an active community volunteer as a Companis Worker with Neighborhood Farmers Market Alliance and University Baptist Childrens’ Center.

Smarter & more compassionate schools? Yes we can!

Submitted by What’s Good 206

Build more compassionate schools by combining students of different ages in the classroom, and fully integrating schools, says a 17-year-old high school senior who has written a book advocating overhaul of the educational system.

In this video produced by What’s Good 206, Nikhil Goyal also advises educators to start treating students respectfully and invite them into the conversation about their education.

Directed by
Hosted by
Edited by

Operation Compassion: How to radically change the story

Submitted by What’s Good 206

It was a chance encounter with a homeless man that that led University of Washington student Daniel Nguyen to start Operation Compassion last year.
It began when an apparently homeless man, a regular Daniel had seen for weeks, boarded his bus and asked him for spare change.
Like many of us, Daniel’s first response was, “I don’t have any.”
But it didn’t end there, and what Daniel Nguyen found out about Reggie, the man on the bus, blew away his preconceived notions of community and launched him on a life-changing crusade.
Warning: this story might do the same for you.

The spotlight is on Daniel Nguyen, a UW sophomore who started operation compassion.
Hosted by Kumar Nessenbaum
Directed by Austin Williams
Edited by Austin Williams & Alyssa Piraino
Camera operator: Austin Williams & Alyssa Piraino

For more information on What’s Good 206, see the website
Daniel’s blog can be found here.

10 years later workshop continues as ongoing support group for care providers

 By Joel and Michelle Levey

Some years ago, we were invited to offer a workshop on meditation and medicine for the faculty of University of Washington Medical School. Nearly 70 physicians attended and stayed for the whole five-hour workshop.

We were so touched by their sincerity and wish to learn more about profoundly practical methods drawn from the contemplative sciences that we began to host a monthly “Meditation and Medicine Circle” for physicians, nurses, and other health caring professionals who were interested in learning methods that would ease their stress, deepen their wisdom, expand their compassion, and offer useful skills to teach to their patients to help with their healing journeys.

On a recent weekend, we attended a one-day retreat with members of the group – which has now been meeting regularly for nearly 10 years. The group is self-organizing now, and so many of the members are providing inspiration, direction, and loving support to this learning community as a whole.

It’s inspiring to see how naturally this has emerged, how deeply nourishing and supportive a force this is in the lives and work of those involved, and to envision how many tens of thousands of people in our larger community have been touched by the wisdom and compassion of those who have engaged in this exploration.

Dr. Joel & Michelle Levey are founders of Wisdom at Work and The International Center for Corporate Culture and Organizational Health at InnerWork Technologies, Inc.,



Terry’s story: compassion on Seattle’s streets

By Amber Joy

Terry was not a complainer. He slept outside, did odd jobs for several Fremont businesses and was always willing to help with anything.

He came into ROAR, a day center for homeless men, almost daily, for a sack lunch. He would ask if he could do anything for us. He kept his hair short, getting it shaved off when he could… so much easier to keep clean, always a problem on the streets, this business of keeping clean. When I realized that I could cut hair for our clients I brought in my clippers and scissors and told the guys they had to shampoo their hair and then I’d give them a free haircut. Terry, amongst others, would make appointments for the day after they’d managed to find a shower… maybe at the Urban Rest Stop. They had to coordinate this with the days and hours that we were open.

Amber Joy gives Terry a haircut.

I’d known Terry for about three years and he would occasionally disappear for a few weeks and then pop back in. Finally, he told me he had a heroin addiction. He’d go in for treatment, get released back to the sidewalk and manage to stay clean for a few days, a few weeks…

He showed up one summer day saying he’d just been released from Harborview Hospital and he had to change his bandage twice a day… could I help him?

“Sure,”  I say. “Have a seat.”

“We better do it outside” says Terry.

“I’ll be right out,” I tell him and I get someone to cover my desk for me. When I came out Terry had his back pack open, with the gauze, 4″ X 8″ non-stick bandages and bottle of sterile water, to flush the wound, at the ready and was trying to wriggle out of his jacket. I assist him. Then I see that his left arm is wrapped from just above his elbow to just over the top of his shoulder. I run in for scissors to snip the tape and then start unwrapping the gauze from his arm. When I remove the non-stick bandage there is a 3 X 6 inch skinless wound area that looks like fresh ground round…pink and dimply, more gouged out in some area than others. The result of an abscess. “I think I better go in and get gloves, Terry,”

Ever so calmly and carefully I pour the sterile water over his flinching arm, both of us gritting our teeth as I lay the non-stick patch and start wrapping the gauze, round and round up over the top of his shoulder and taping it, top and bottom, to keep it in place. “Now, back into your jacket… you’ve got to keep this protected Terry.”

A Fremont bartender was going to do the evening change and cleansing and I would come in when ROAR was closed, Friday, Saturday and Sunday at 9 meet him in the parking lot for the morning shift.

It was a three-handed job, holding the patch, handling the gauze, taping. I was stunned that a person could be released from a hospital in this condition, but Terry, ever optimistic, says “If I can keep it clean and it heals up they will do a skin graph from my thigh.” As I remember he thought, if all went well, it would be in about three weeks.

After about a week Terry quit coming by. There was no way to contact him and then the shelter closed down for lack of funds. I don’t know what happened to this sweet, quiet, 30-something year old man. I try not to think about it, and when I do it throws me onto my knees.

Amber Joy is with  Companis, an agency that fills staffing gaps of nonprofit agencies with professional volunteer and community workers.



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.

How a neighborhood rescued a dog

Once upon a time there was a dog named Raider…

This is the story of how Raider’s needs were met by the actions of  Circle Drive, a compassionate neighborhood in Lake Forest Park, as told in the emails that circulated via our Resource Line:

Please help find this missing dog!

Lost about 4:30 PM Saturday.  He’s a 3-year-old male chocolate lab who answers to the name “Raider” or “Ray-Ray.”

He has no collar or ID.

A week later: Armand:

Please put out to the neighborhood:

Raider (chocolate lab)’s been coming here for food once or twice a day. My objective has been to get him closer to the back gate, and then lure him in and close it behind him.  (I’ve rigged a cord to do this…)

In order to make this happen, I’m writing to request that if any other neighbors are putting out food for him, please stop.  He knows that there is food here, and I’m hoping if I’m the only one feeding, that I’ll be able to catch him.

Sunday afternoon I bundled up and sat outside by the garden room for 2 hours waiting for Raider to come…

He came up finally, and started eating, but when I pulled the cord to close the gate, he bolted, knocked over 2 big pots, broke a huge glass ball, and got out!

He did come back an hour later and ate…

I’m hoping against hope that I will be able to corner him, but at this point I have to admit he’s so skittish and clever that this may come to no good end.

However, I am going to keep trying…

Ten days later: Doug:

Raider is staying pretty close to the “circle”, is on the move nearly continuously, and has been in and out of our yard many times over the past several days.

The next day: Phillapa:

Hi, I am writing from London and just wanted to say how proud we are to be neighbors of all that are showing such kindness to this dog!

We just got here from Venice, where we had a wonderful week of vacation.  We saw many beautiful dogs in Venice, who seem very happy to ride in all kinds of boats and trot along the alleyways, with no parks or very little grass in sight.  We are also happy to report that the European airports we have been through this past couple of weeks are using lots of lovely Labs and German Shepherds as “sniffer” dogs to smell every passenger as they go through the airport.  So much less intrusive that a full pat-down, and such a wise use of these intelligent and talented animals!

Best to all — see you next week!

Three days later:  Armand:

The saga of Raider continues.

Animal Control was called on Thursday. They are assisting us with the capture.  Their assessment is that Raider is NOT a dangerous dog, just lost and stressed.

We had a home arranged for Raider, but this has now fallen apart.

I am working on another solution, but have also learned that Animal Control and Paws only have limited day time hours… so as you can see, trapping him would not mean an immediate delivery which is also problematic.

Again, I ask you all to allow me to work with Raider to continue to try to build trust with him.  He clearly wants a home, but is not sure why he can’t find his people.

I want this resolved as much as anyone, but the reality is that this is not as easy as it seems… and I’d like to avoid any trauma to the dog as well.  Were I to trap him on Saturday night, I wouldn’t be able to get him to PAWS until Monday… so you see the problem.  Raider is not necessarily interested in working with Paws or Animal Controls’ time frame.

Later that day:  Anne:

I am so grateful to Armand for his diligent persistence in helping Raider.
It does seem to me that the dog has been clear that he is not aggressive, rather he is searching for safety and a place/people that feels “right”.

Next day: Armand:

Subject: Raider! A victory!

Credit goes to Marisa and Scott, who were finally able to lure Raider into an enclosure!  Through the use of stealth and modern technology, they were able to win his trust and get him trapped!

Once trapped, he settled right down, has accepted petting, more food, and is being really sweet.

This saga is now finally resolved.

My thanks go to everyone who has worked to assist in the catching of this beautiful dog.

Next day: Doug:

Scott built the enclosure used to entrap Raider.

Marisa used her magic with animals (and horse training experience) to induce Raider’s trust.  She fed him snacks while walking around talking to him, but with little eye contact.  She was also communicating with Scott, who was on his cell phone, speaking / guiding through Marisa’s ear piece. They led him around the yard many times, and on several occasions, and finally into the enclosure.

There, Raider was fed and watered, gently persuaded to come closer and to allow touching, was given a collar and leash, and was taken for short walks in the enclosure – then back out into the yard – then into the house.

Armand came over with more food and treats.  He and Walt have invested a lot of caring in this process.  So has Bea, who also came over to see Raider up close.  The whole neighborhood has shown Raider compassion and caring in general.

We have just introduced Raider to our dog and our cat.  That went OK, but it will take time for them to become “friends.”

We are now having conversations on keeping Raider as a new family member vs taking him to PAWS.

Raider is very smart and very sweet.

At this writing, they’re living happily ever after:

Raider’s name is now Bear as befits a happy chocolate lab who has found his “people.” His former owners have visited and given their blessing. The family’s resident dog, Biscuit, loves her new housemate. The family cat keeps her distance.