Checking in with Treehouse Volunteers Carla & Jeff

By Shoshanna Love, Treehouse Volunteer Manager

It’s National Volunteer Month, and while many of our volunteer opportunities are on hold for now, we wanted to take this time to recognize all of our volunteers for the work they do to support Treehouse all year long.

Volunteers are partners in everything we do at Treehouse. Last year, 2,671 volunteers joined us in many roles: working in the Treehouse Store, at our front desk, as tutors for youth and as support for special events. We were founded by grassroots volunteers in 1988, and since then, we’ve valued the diverse perspectives, energy and experience our volunteers bring to us.

We miss seeing our amazing volunteers every day. I checked in with two of our dedicated volunteers to update us on their thoughts while they’re staying home to help keep our community safe.

Carla Richards, Treehouse Store volunteer

What do you miss about volunteering at Treehouse during this time? What are you looking forward to when you return?
There are so many things I miss about not being at Treehouse each week as a volunteer. By far, the thing I miss most are the people. I miss seeing my fellow volunteers, some of whom I’ve volunteered with for over 7 years. I miss the incredible Treehouse staff both in the store and upstairs on the second floor.
What I tell people about the joy of volunteering at Treehouse is the wonderful people that make up the Treehouse team. Watching you all in action to assist kids in foster care is a privilege I hold dear.
And lastly, I miss being able to contribute to such an important organization and being there to assist the kids and families with their needs. It is difficult to sit at home and feel like I’m unable to do anything. Upon returning to my Treehouse volunteer duties, I am looking forward to seeing all of the dear faces of the volunteers, staff and clients while sorting through donations and organizing the store.

Have you found any ways to continue to engage with your community, while respecting social distancing?
My husband and I are constantly on the lookout for ways we can contribute. We live on Mercer Island with many small business owners who have become friends. We reached out to them and have made a point of placing orders on the phone or online. They have been great with delivering purchases directly to our front porch. My husband runs his own business, and he has utilized our merchants to send gifts to both our staff working remotely and clients. That helps out the small businesses and has added a bright spot to our staff and clients who are at home sheltering in place.
While we have always made donations to service organizations, we have either increased our donations or made extra ones during this difficult time. We have always supported our local food bank, which cannot currently take food donations, so we purchased grocery store gift cards that they can give out to clients. While we have always tried to be thoughtful and proactive with giving back, the current situation has made us dig a little deeper to have a bigger impact, whether it’s with our dollars or with our time.

How are your furry “coworkers” behaving while you’re at home?
I do have a dog, a Havanese named Sumi. He is getting lots more attention in the shape of treats and walks while also following me around the house since he can’t hear and needs to be able to see me to know where I am. At 15½ years old, all of the travels through the house and multiple walks each day make him very tired. He has a bed in most every room of the house, and that’s where I find him if he isn’t following someone around the house. Here he is right now in my office. As you can see he is “working” hard! Although things are very different in our daily life right now, he is our constant. He still wants food, water, treats and lots of love!

Jeff Boyer, Treehouse Ambassador Board Executive Chair

What do you miss about volunteering at Treehouse in person during this time?
Though I’m grateful that our Treehouse Ambassador Board meetings are able to move to Zoom, I miss the hugs and comradery that comes from meeting in person. As one of the Executive Chairs, it’s hard to find creative ways to tangibly move the dial along for Treehouse in the midst of so much uncertainty.

How are you continuing to safely engage with your community?
In lieu of being able to have a table at Champions this year, I set up a fundraiser on Facebook that generated about $800 of support from my network. One person donated who I met last December on a vacation to Mexico, and she doesn’t even live in Washington!

Have you found any absorbing hobbies or activities to do while you’ve been staying at home?
I’m in the middle of a pretty sweet “Golden Girls” puzzle, and I’ve been taking as many walks as possible. Wine helps, too!

How are your furry “coworkers” behaving while you’re at home?
My coworker seems unfazed by social distancing. He would lick the face of a stranger if given the chance!

We can’t wait to see all of our volunteers, including Carla and Jeff, in person again.

While we canceled in-person volunteer shifts for the month of April, it hasn’t stopped folks from wanting to be involved. Several groups have asked how else they could support Treehouse. They were able to donate to our Champions Crowdfunding Campaign and GiveBIG. It’s incredible to see this kind of support from the community!

We are working to find new ways for the community to engage with us safely. Email me at [email protected] for more information.

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About the Author

Shoshanna Love is the Volunteer Manager at Treehouse. She is passionate about working with members of our community to support youth in foster care and believes we can only do this together.

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