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Entries Tagged as volunteers

Community Inspired: El Centro de la Raza

by Rochelle · 05.20.2014

“I have found that there is a tremendous joy in giving. It is a very important part of the joy of living.” –William Black

Here at Compendium, volunteerism is an important aspect of many of our team members’ lives. Several of us regularly donate time at animal organizations, food banks, and schools. And throughout the year, all of us gather to spend a day out of the office lending at hand to local nonprofits.When we reached out to El Centro de la Raza, which translates to "The Center for the People of All Races," they were happy to invite us down to their historic building in South Seattle.

Founded by a small group of dedicated Latinos in 1972, El Centro de la Raza has grown to be an anchor in the community. It is a place where advocates and supporters of dispersed populations work together to educate and empower disadvantaged youths and adults. It was our honor to offer our skills and time to support their mission and further their goals. Three projects needed immediate attention, and we were excited to roll up our sleeves and get to work. 

Some of our graphic designers collaborated on a new poster that will promote cooking classes at the Center and in the community. The classes, offered on weekends throughout the year, are a rich source of community engagement and funding for senior services. Registration fees, collected from class attendees, help support El Centro de la Raza’s Senior Wellness Program. The program provides services, food deliveries, and exercise classes for seniors. 

Another group hunkered down in the building’s attic to detail the contents of several dozen boxes. Our work supported the organization’s ongoing volunteer initiative to catalogue their internal documents for the University of Washington’s Special Collections Library. More than one hundred boxes containing ephemera and documents dating back to El Centro’s inception will be sent to the UW for research and learning purposes. 

One of our production coordinators, Trisha, particularly enjoyed looking at cards drawn by children in the 1980s and internal memos drafted long before the days of email. Forty years of El Centro’s history has been thoughtfully preserved in boxes to serve as a record of the Latino experience in Seattle. While they were in the attic, the ladies were joined by a graduate student who was researching his master’s thesis, utilizing documents from El Centro’s archives.

The third group of volunteers braved one of Seattle’s infamously soggy days to perform labor outside. Their tasks were to set up small fencing, landscape portions of the grounds, and move pieces of outdoor equipment. The team appreciated a break from the rain when they were offered an opportunity to come inside and enjoy a hot, homemade lunch prepared by El Centro staff. 

El Centro offers free tours throughout the day of their historic building to visitors and volunteers. Toward the end of our shift, our guide took us on a narrative walk and educated us about El Centro’s vibrant past. Colorful murals grace the building’s interior, conveying tales of Latino cultural struggle and labor history as well as expressing optimism for the future. 

We were grateful to spend the day with the generous staff and volunteers at El Centro de la Raza. And we thank them for the wonderful opportunity for us to learn more about their dedicated efforts and contributions in our community!

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To the Best Friends We've Never Met

by Dan Zadra · 05.14.2010


Who can explain the magical sets of circumstances that conspire to create a lasting friendship or bond between people?


Here at Compendium some of our most cherished relationships are with people we’ve never even seen face-to-face. Sure, we may have talked with each other by telephone, communicated online, or even collaborated from a distance on mutually important projects. But we’ve never actually sat down and looked each other in the eye, or shared a handshake or a hug.


And yet, we know in our heart of hearts that these people who we’ve only known from afar have come into our lives for some important reason, large or small. We count them among our friends and kindred spirits. Over the years I’ve adopted a special name for them—a term of endearment that you are welcome to use if you, too, are lucky enough to have similar people in your life. I call these people “the best friends I’ve never met.”


Let me introduce you to one. Back in the 1990’s Compendium received a phone call from an elderly woman who lived on a small pension in a trailer park in Lacy, Washington. Her name was Betty Kieler, and though she spoke in a gentle, wavering, grandmotherly voice, we quickly discovered that she could be very tough and determined when it came to fighting for her causes.


Betty proudly informed us that she was the newly-elected President of the Northwest Senior chapter of Random Acts of Kindness. Their goal was to somehow feed and clothe hundreds of disadvantaged children in the Pacific Northwest, and also teach them to read. Betty wanted Compendium to help by donating our Gift of Inspiration books and our window cards to their causes.





Over the next decade, Betty became one of the very best friends we never met, staying connected across the miles by phone or email. We marveled as she overcame recurring heart attacks and cancer on the way to recruiting dozens of senior citizens to her organization. Over time, Betty and her elderly volunteers fed and clothed thousands of students, and created a wonderful student reading program that became a national model.


We didn’t have to meet her face-to-face to know who she was, or what she stood for. It was clear. To all of us at Compendium, Betty Kieler was a kindred spirit, a familiar and reassuring soul, a beautiful example of what we like to call the “inspired community”—and one of the best friends we never met.


There have been lots of others along the way—people of all ages and walks of life with whom we share something special, hopeful and affirming. And now, thanks to Facebook, Twitter, and other far-flung ways of connecting across the miles, there are more of us getting connected than ever before. Here's to the inspired community, and to the best friends we never met. People like Betty. People like you.


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