3 Stories of Hope from Seattle Volunteerism

Interviewing Roy Castillo at Alder Hall, University of Washington. Photo by Kathryn Joy.
Interviewing Roy Castillo at Alder Hall, University of Washington.
Photo by Kathryn Joy.

  “ I used to be shy and I could’t talk to people and get socialized… my volunteer place helped me a lot to step out from my comfort zone because I had to talk to people and make sure they always have company… I always wanted to be something that wasn’t for myself” he said.
Roy Castillo age 24, a medical student and a part time passionate volunteer at Bailey-Boushay House, Seattle. He has started volunteering on February 1st 2015. He states that volunteerism is great because people get the opportunity to do something to their community, and also to step out from their comfort zone and be able to learn from different things that you might learn from the volunteer place or through the people that you are volunteering with. Also it gives a chance to meet new people that you might not get in contact otherwise.

All the volunteers have got one thing in common, they believe in HOPE. Every passionate volunteer finds hope in what they do. They hope for the betterment of society and for the community they serve. It’s hoping for the best that keeps them strong and lively.

Even though the society says that the volunteerism is important for them and for ourselves, hardly it listens to the voices of volunteers. There’s a reason, a hidden sweet or bitter story inside every volunteer. There are two kinds of volunteers, the ones who volunteer just because it’s good for their resume and the ones who really care about social justice. The second kind want to make change happen in the society, so they become the change that they want to see in the society. Volunteerism nowadays have become so important that in the world “… Some places can’t function smoothly without volunteers.”

David Pavlick at Bailey-Boushay House, Seattle Photo by Kathryn Joy
David Pavlick at Bailey-Boushay House, Seattle
Photo by Kathryn Joy

Bailey-Boushay House (BBH) is one such place that volunteers make a huge impact on one’s life before the final goodbye. It was the first facility in the US which was designed and built for HIV and AIDS care. Leaders Profile
David Pavlick is a very inspiring person who started volunteering at BBH in 1992 and became its Volunteer Program Manager in 1994.
Pavlick changed his career after realizing that he belonged here at Bailey-Boushay House and not at the courts. “ I joke with my volunteers from my lawyer background I say to them, when you came into this world you signed a contract…and what the signed print says ‘If you check in, you must check out’
With the death of his best friend, the bitter memories marked the turning point of his life. He saw that the society is missing something, a gap that need to be filled. “ …Our goal is to fill the gap between the nursing home and the hospital …”

According to Pavlick, currently there are about 128 volunteers at BBH. Becoming a volunteer at BBH is almost equal as becoming a staff member because it is a very elaborate process. “I tell people this the deep end of the pool,what I like to believe is that if you go into something that challenges you, that’s when you grow. If you always stay in your comfort zone and you always kinda stay in that little envelop where you feel safe, yeah that feel safe but you don’t grow. It’s when you do things that feel little uncomfortable and you realize ‘oh I CAN do that! You can grow”
BBH is a very unique place for it’s volunteers since they get to work directly with clients, staff and residents. So many volunteers get the chance to decide whether this is really what they want to do with their lives.

Photo courtesy of Stephanie Lam
Photo courtesy of Stephanie Lam

The individuals who seek justice will always notice what’s missing in society. Stephanie Lam age 21 , majoring in Psychology is one such passionate volunteer at Royal Family Kids Camp. Children of abuse, abandonment and neglect
She started volunteering when she was in high school and has done many volunteer activities up to date. But this specific camp made her realize that she was born to make change happen in society. The power that she felt every time she plant hope for life in the minds of children. She began to appreciate what God has given to her and she was always thankful for the life she has got. The children at the Royal Family Kids Camp are special and it’s a huge challenge for the volunteers to get close to their lives.

“…even though the kids are hurting so much and know that their history was not good by any standards there’s hope that they can still learn to trust people, there’s hope that they can heal from all the hurt that has been inflicted on them..” she explained.

People don’t volunteer for this program just to feel good about themselves because just like in BBH, Royal Family Kids Camp is also about connecting to people. “Sometimes the counsellors get really frustrated and disappointed thinking that their kid doesn’t like them…” but in this sector you will be that stranger who is helping today and the friend forever next day. It’s also hard to volunteer in these places because you will be emotionally and mentally connected to these individuals and you have to let go and say good bye at the end of the day. “…You can affect them and you can change their lives, and in return you end up changing as well…how much impact you can have on a person just by connecting to them is inspiring”

This story was produced in the 2015 SUSI program.