Snow is falling in big white chunks outside my window. Coffee mug in hand, I bundle up and head out the door. The air is grey and quiet as I cross at the light on 15th Ave and begin my steep descent down to Lake City. I have been making this trek- from my home in Pinehurst to HIP’s office in Lake City Presbyterian Church- five days a week for the past year, but today it seems special. It is special because of the rare Seattle snow storm, but also because I know that my days of making this daily trek are numbered.
As many of you know, my term as an Americorps VISTA at HIP is coming to a close. For the past 51 weeks I have been here at HIP, responding to volunteer inquiries, making community connections, helping run our summer meal program, filling in for Darcy, and much more. I have enjoyed this opportunity to make an impact on this area of Seattle by helping HIP improve food security. I have grown a lot here and feel ready to take on new challenges. But still, it is with sadness that I contemplate my impending departure. Each step seems to have a little extra weight.
By the time I have made it down the hill, the snow has slowed, the fluffy flakes replaced with sporadic flurries. I cross Lake City Way, turn on 123rd Street and begin my walk up yet another hill towards HIP’s office. As I reach the church and bound up the steps, I realize that this trek is special also because of the place I am headed to. To me, HIP is more than a place where I spend 40 hours of week ; HIP is a vibrant community made up of passionate, kind, and inspiring people.
Never is this more evident than today, as I walk into the kitchen to greet the prep crew. Despite the inclement weather, there are several volunteers preparing a warm pot of turkey noodle soup for our senior meal. The sounds of pots and pans clanging muddle with mirthful laughter. Back in the office, the mood is similar. As we settle into our Monday routines, we share important moments from our weekend and discuss the snowy weather.
Later in the day, we head over to the meal. In spite of the weather we still have a good showing of diners. After I take my place at a table I begin to talk to a people sitting around me. Some of them, I know from my work at HIP and with other organizations in the community. One person is a new face. She tells me she is a lifelong resident of the Lake City area and soon we begin to talk about how things have changed. She tells me about growing up here: the rural feel of the area with kids running around freely in the forests. She tells me about how the recent development has brought an end to that style of life but it has also brought new joys, like greater diversity of people and new ideas. She also remarks how much more resources, such as the HIP meal, exist now for people who are struggling.
We should be proud of the community and spaces we have created through our programs and our work. We have a robust community of volunteers , staff people, board members, and partner organizations, who are willing to go out of their way to help people in need. Through their passion and commitment they have formed lasting bonds both with each other and with their neighbors. Further we have also worked to create community spaces, like our senior meal, where people can come together to share space and stories with one another.
I feel blessed to be have been nurtured by this community and by these spaces during my time at HIP and I will miss being able to interact with them daily. But I am comforted by the knowledge that they continue to be here and that I will be able visit from time to time. I am also excited to see how this community will continue to grow in size and strength as it continues to nature and be nurtured by all who touch it