Hanna Bailey is an AmeriCorps VISTA serving with Quixote Communities, an Olympia-based organization. We asked her how she got started in service work and to tell us about her experience. Here's her story!
I grew up in a military family. My dad retired from the Navy; both my sister and my partner are currently in the Army. Getting to work with veterans and active-duty volunteers has been great. It feels like returning home in an odd way. While I am not a veteran myself, I've been close with many veterans my entire life. I understand how they think and work. It's been very fulfilling to give back to those who served.
My parents also run a non-profit, so I grew up around the atmosphere. I remember our old desktop computer had a piece of paper taped to the screen with a line from the movie Field of Dreams, "If you build it, they will come."
I've been thinking about that piece of paper a lot this month. I didn't understand the meaning as a kid, but now serving at a non-profit, I completely understand. It has been a surreal experience the past couple of months working with our community on much-needed donations. There have been so many coincidences; it's eery. I'll have a meeting where I'm told we need freezers for the community building, and the next day a random person reaches out to me saying they want to donate money for whatever kitchen appliances we need. It's exhilarating and intimidating. Sometimes it feels like we're running out of time and energy, but then we have a big, amazing donation come in, and I'm reminded that we're not alone. There's a vast community waiting to support us. I'm so grateful to be playing a part in this project.
When my executive director informed me that an anonymous donor offered Quixote a matching donation campaign of up to $10,000, I'll admit I was skeptical. It's been a tough year financially for most households in the country, so the thought of raising $10,000 in December - in the middle of the holidays - didn't seem plausible to me. I thought we could raise maybe $2,000 - $3,000 from our regular supports. I've never been so happy to be proven wrong! Our community truly came through and donated over 11,000 dollars in one month, meaning over $21,000 for Quixote Communities. Being a VISTA can be mentally frustrating. The longer you're in, the more unmet needs you see and cannot solve alone. I was feeling burnt out from a tough year, but reaching that $10,000 goal has reminded me that people do want to help and make a change. And I'm so lucky to serve at my site and help bring that change to life. I'm ready to raise even more in 2021!