04.18.15 / Category: Volunteer Spotlights

Volunteer Spotlight: Christi Flynn

I’ll be honest right up front. I’m not the best writer. I’m a much better communicator in-person. I talk with my hands; my voice goes through a range of inflections and gets louder as I become more excited. So it’s hard for me to convey in writing how passionate I am about volunteering for the Circle of Sisterhood. Our mission is to remove barriers to education for girls and women by raising funds. You know what my biggest barrier to education was? Walking our long, dark, driveway, to catch the school bus. Big deal, right?  (Visualize my hands on my hips.) As I’ve grown older and raised my children, it’s been even harder to fathom how so many children, especially girls, have little or no opportunity to receive an education. Simple things we take for granted are not in place in certain countries and are huge barriers to accessing education; an actual school building, separate bathrooms for girls, school supplies, qualified teachers, school uniforms, to name just a few. (My voice is growing louder at this point!)

71844_543696895664238_1486379584_nI know that educating girls and women is the way to change our world for the better. I’ll admit that I become overwhelmed when I read the news and try and digest all the conflict, hate and instability in the world. I choose to devote my time to our mission because girl by girl, woman by woman, we are making a difference right now and those women will carry that forward into their futures, creating dynamic worldwide changes.

I’m also passionate about volunteering and feel like it’s a gift that everyone should experience. Here’s a little background of why I fell in love with volunteering…

I had made it through my twenties. My husband and I had been working very hard. We had managed to buy a house, we birthed two healthy children and then we were thirty, still were working hard at our professional jobs as well as our 24/7 job of being parents. It was stressful and at times my world seemed very narrow. My daily life consisted of client meetings, toddler ear infections, spread sheets, meeting room layouts, transitions from diapers to pull ups and having enough chicken nuggets in the freezer. (My eyes are rolling right here.)

Around 1999 I was asked to volunteer for my local Tri Delta house corporation board at the University of Washington. My inner voice screamed “Are you kidding me?! I don’t have time for that!” And then, I heard myself say “Yes.” At that moment, I knew I needed something else in my life outside of work and family. Who knew how my world would expand?

Volunteering for a variety of organizations has been a wonderful learning experience for me and it has given me chance to grow as a leader and meet and become friends with some amazing people. Has it been 100% fun? No, at times it has been pull-your-hair-out stressful. However, out of every volunteer experience I have learned something different; patience, empathy, listening skills, project management, how to fund raise, how to run a board meeting, (and how not to – I’m giggling here) how to distinguish between a vision and a mission statement, how NOT to micromanage and how to restrain myself from all the sugary treats that appear on the table during a strategic planning board meeting.

I believe there’s a place in this world for everyone to volunteer. Being a volunteer allows you to work in an area that you are interested in and even passionate about. A volunteer experience can lead to a new circle of friends and scientific studies show that it leads to a healthier, more balanced life. Seriously, why wouldn’t you do this?  (I’m shrugging and looking you right in the eye.) I’ve been enjoying a variety of volunteer experiences lately that range from board governance work to checking out books to 7th & 8th graders every Wednesday at our local middle school library.  It’s been enjoyable for me to serve on the Circle of Sisterhood Board as it has challenged me to learn more about issues facing women and girls worldwide. Volunteering locally immerses me in my neighborhood and the multiple issues facing public schools. (And confirms that I’m really glad that I made it through middle school.)

I am so glad I said “Yes” in 1999 to my first volunteer experience. It’s been life transforming for me and I hope it is for you too. My personal volunteer experiences have made me so very thankful for those that take their time to volunteer for the Circle of Sisterhood. I know that volunteer tasks often slip to the bottom of the to-do list and yet our group of volunteers always rises to the occasion when need arises.

Thank you from one volunteer to another! (I’d give you a big hug now if we were face to face.)

All my best,

Christi Flynn