12.05.2018

How Volunteering Turned into a Career

By Jesse Colman, Treehouse Public Relations Specialist

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Chris Nitta’s journey with Treehouse started in early 2013 while he was a student at the University of Washington. His class had a volunteer requirement and Treehouse’s free store was listed as one of the programs.

“It seemed like an interesting opportunity to explore, and it worked with my schedule,” Chris said.

Volunteering became a refreshing change of pace to student life, and what started out as a class requirement continued years after the course ended. More than that, he enjoyed working toward our mission of giving youth in foster car a childhood and a future. He really saw the value of Treehouse’s programs.

“While running the teen gift shop during the holidays, I got to talk to a lot of the youth,” Chris said. “Many youth just wanted to pick out gifts for people in their lives. We were there wanting them to get things, and they’d rather have something to give.”

Over a year ago, Chris transitioned from volunteering to starting his Treehouse career. Now a Little Wishes Coordinator, Chris provides Treehouse youth with their own opportunities to explore different interests. By providing funding for things like school fees, extracurricular activities and summer camp, Treehouse youth are able to have access to important childhood experiences and discover passions.

Primarily working with ages 12 and under, Chris spends a lot of his time communicating back and forth with caregivers. Getting glimpses into how caregivers are advocating for their youth is what he views as one of the most rewarding parts of his job. That and summer camps. As a former camper and counselor, camp wasn’t only memorable but had a profound impact on Chris growing up.

“For me, it was getting to be outdoors and being active. There’s a camp for every interest and need, from art camp to the two-week backpacking trips the YMCA coordinates,” Chris said. “There is even a camp that specializes in bringing siblings who have been separated in the foster care system together.”

The opportunities for youth to explore new interests is core to Treehouse’s mission.

“At Treehouse, from volunteers to staff, I’ve found an environment of people that really buy into what they’re trying to accomplish,” Chris said.

Interested in working at Treehouse? Learn more at treehouseforkids.org/careers.

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About the Author

Jesse Colman is the Public Relations Specialist for Treehouse. He is passionate about building relationships, storytelling and community development.


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