By Kate Devaney
In addition to hosting Lighthouse-sponsored volunteering opportunities for our employees through the Lighthouse Cares program, Lighthouse offers each full-time employee Volunteering Time Off, or VTO, to participate in nonprofit activities outside of work. Below is one example of a dedicated employee leveraging that time to participate in their community and give back to a cause that is near and dear to them.
Since I can remember, I have had an undeniable love of the outdoors. Growing up just a few blocks from Discovery Park in Seattle, my brother, the neighborhood kids, and I would often explore the 500 plus acre park and its many trails after school and on the weekends. All of my summers growing up and into college were spent camping, hiking, backpacking, swimming at the beach, lakes, and the rivers of the Pacific Northwest. After college, my desire to hike and backpack quickly turned into scrambling and mountaineering so that I could see more and do more in the great outdoors. At the same time, my awareness around ensuring a low impact on trails and responsible recreation grew, and my desire to support conservation and stewardship efforts kicked in.
At Lighthouse, full-time employees get 8 hours of paid volunteer time off (VTO) to give back to a nonprofit and cause of their choosing. For me, this happened to be volunteering with the Mountaineers or Washington Trails Association (WTA) to support conservation efforts for the Pacific Northwest. Since starting at Lighthouse, I have had the opportunity to do something impactful with my 8 hours each year. My first year, I was able to work with the Mountaineers to plant native plants around a wetland area to help restore a salmon hatchery near Shelton, WA. The next year, I had the opportunity to work with the WTA to assist in building a new trail on Squawk Mountain in Issaquah, WA.
Most recently, I chose to spend my 8 hours of VTO on the trail with the WTA in Bellingham, WA, where we worked on the legacy project at Lookout Mountain. After a brief intro to the tools and safety on the trail, we hiked a couple miles up to where we would be working that day on a new turnpike. Some of us skinned logs, while others collected medium and large rocks for water drainage. Later in the day, we joined forces with the Whatcom Community College and Whatcom County crew members to haul large logs as supports for a bridge that would bear the weight of a horse. It took 14 of us and some real grit to move the three 24 foot logs that span the new bridge.
Overall, the day was a huge success. We were able to make some major headway on the turnpike (which was completed the very next day by more WTA volunteers) as well as make great progress on the large horse bridge. These efforts help support responsible recreation in addition to the prevention of degradation on the surrounding areas and natural habitats.
Because of Lighthouse, I am able to spend a full day giving back in a way that matters to me. For more information on the Lighthouse Cares program or to ask questions, please reach out at firstname.lastname@example.org.