Today’s ‘Feel Good Friday’ is a salute to our intrepid volunteers! We can’t help but notice that they seem to gain energy the more they volunteer, and they almost always comment that they get back even more than they give, which is really saying something.  It turns out there’s science behind that feeling!


Here are a few cool examples.

Community Volunteers
Our recent SeaTac Back to School Fair provided more than 2100 backpacks filled with school supplies for students who truly need them.  But those backpacks don’t stuff themselves! That work was done by about 35 volunteers: community members and folks from Sedgwick, Highline School District staff, Alaska Airlines, Angle Lake Community Church, and Coldwell Banker Danforth.

“Being a kid is tough enough in today’s world without having to worry about basic school supplies so that you can learn.  Families shouldn’t have to make the tough decisions about whether to pay bills or provide basic needs for their kids.  We believe in investing in our future generation and in helping them to be successful,” says Valerie Danforth in explaining why Coldwell Banker Danforth remains committed to this project.

Super-volunteer and Administrative Coordinator at Coldwell Banker Danforth, Christie Frederickson, offered these thoughts: “Each year we have lots of employees and brokers who want to volunteer because the ‘backpack fill’ is such a fun and worthwhile experience.  There’s always a lot of energy and it’s a great feeling! We feel honored to be part of it.”


That can-do spirit was evident as volunteers synchronized four assembly lines, filled every backpack and organized them by school age group, then cleaned up all the boxes the supplies came in. Plus, they did it all in two hours! The good people at Rontra Warehouse donate space year-round to make this work possible. They are awesome! So is Colleen Brandt-Schluter from the City of Seatac who organized the volunteers to set up the ‘backpack fill’ project and again to actually do the work.

Refugees Northwest Community Programs Manager Amy Lloyd Wagner marveled at the teamwork and sense of community. “It made me think of how much I loved getting school supplies as a kid, and to know these people were giving that to children who might otherwise go without was really amazing!”


Service Group Volunteers
In the past year, a group of women from across the Puget Sound region grew concerned about the political discourse around immigration and refugee resettlement, among other topics, and formed a Facebook group to coordinate service projects in response.

They quickly identified the Refugees Northwest Emergency Food Bank as a worthy cause because it serves our most vulnerable population who are homeless and need weekly food support.  Gathering non-perishable goods, they donated a full two weeks supply of food, utensils, bowls, tea and coffee this month for all of our clients who need it, knowing their fast action makes a huge and immediate difference in at-risk people’s lives.

Cathy Wittel and her dog, Edgar

Cathy Wittel was both a volunteer and a major donor of food and supplies.  “I was motivated because of the current negative actions affecting refugees and I wanted to make sure I offered a welcome.  We wanted to say to people that they are wanted here.  Lending a hand to a refugee makes me feel like I’m part of the true American spirit of welcoming people from around the world to their new home in our beautiful country.  This project allowed me to be part of something so good!”

If you’d like to DIY your own food drive for the Emergency Food Bank, here’s what you need to know: https://refugeesnw.org/emergency-food-bags/


Friend Group Volunteers
A Seattle area circle of friends heard about a resettled Iraqi mother and two daughters who are still awaiting the arrival of their husband and father.  It turned out the family had moved to the Seattle area from the original site of their resettlement and had only the mattresses on their apartment floor and their clothing. Within a week or two, the friends gathered donated mattresses, new bedding, and quality second-hand furniture, and purchased everything from kitchen and bathroom supplies to clothing and books for the girls.  The friends and many of their children arrived at the appointed time to set everything up and haul away boxes and bags.  Volunteer Tim Larson observed, “It made us all really happy and proud of our country to reach out and make life a little easier for this family.  My own ancestors arrived here with very little.  It was a different time but the same idea.  The girls are so curious and progressing amazingly well in their language skills.  Plus, they’re both readers so we bonded over that!”


It’s not always possible to make those one-on-one linkages, but there are lots of ways to help newly arrived families gain stability and assimilate through Refugees Northwest.  We’ve been at this work for decades, and believe that we all can be a source of comfort and a voice of welcome.  Please Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter and Instagram!  And check out ways to volunteer and donate on our website at www.refugeesnw.org or click right here:


Together, we’ll build stronger communities!