21 April 2010

national volunteer week

Whew. There’s a lot going on this week. It’s National Volunteer Week (April 18-24), which I honored today by volunteering a few (far too fast) hours at Marra Farm Giving Garden in the South Park neighborhood of Seattle via the United Way of King County. My county’s United Way chapter works closely with Solid Ground, an organization that provides shelter, food, home care, transportation and other basic services to more than 38,000 families and individuals in need throughout King County. Under the aegis of Solid Ground and several other organizations, the four acre Marra Farm engages people in sustainable agriculture and education (of all ages) while enhancing local food security. (The food grown at Marra Farm goes to local residents and the senior lunch program through the Providence Regina House Food Bank, Mien senior citizens, and Concord Elementary School students and their families.) To get an idea of how much this little four acre plot contributes to the local community, consider this: In 2009, more than 1,400 volunteers contributed over 6,200 hours to help us grow more than 16,000 pounds at Marra Farm. Wow.

Marra Farm also has one heckuva fascinating history. First of all, it is one of only two historical farms preserved with Seattle city limits (the other being Picardo Farm in Wedgwood, Seattle). It was operated from the early 1900s until the 1970s by the Marra family, until they sold it to King County Parks and Recreation under the premise that the parcel must remain open space. The land got very little love until the immigrant neighborhood residents joined efforts, along with a VISTA volunteer to kickstart restoration efforts in the late 1990s.

Big thanks to Marra Farm Coordinator, Sue McGann for being such an amazing ambassador of the land and of farming and for reminding us to honor the farmers who grow our food and to always support our farmers' markets. You made me leave Marra Farms yearning to return and get my hands back in the dirt to play some small part of the bigger picture. Also, thank you Erica and Yuri of United Way of King County for coordinating this volunteer opportunity and for throwing free Seattle Mariners tickets into the mix to sweeten the already satisfying deal. I look forward to working with all of you again. (Be still my volunteer lovin' heart.)

A quick side note also in the volunteering vein. I'd like to thank Sarah Van Auken of Volunteer Global for the nice mention of The Global Citizen Project's fundraising efforts in her "Fundraising for Your Volunteer Trip" blog post. Sarah's been an incredible supporter of my project and a fantastic proponent of volunteer travel and I'm so very glad this gal is on my team. She rocks.

So, what are you waiting for? Get out there this week and do something for the world already. Even if you only have an hour or two to spare, between National Volunteer Week and Earth Day (coincidentally, my birthday), there are oodles of volunteer opportunities this week. Go make a difference. (Because I know you can.)

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