The Pursuit of Happiness

Beginning my freshman year at Ball State University, I decided to volunteer for one simple reason – the reason we all volunteer – to help others.

I supported members of the community by serving meals, helping individuals to read or improve their grades, and, most importantly, building positive relationships.

The most influential relationship was one that I developed over four years of volunteering at Hillcroft, an agency that supports adults and teens with mental and physical disabilities. A man who was blind and disabled, he had the gentlest soul I had ever met. Each week, he would tell me stories about his day, what excited him about the weekend, and asked me to share stories with him too. At the end of four years, I had made a new friend. Though this experience was impactful for me, I knew I didn’t have the capacity to pursue a career in direct service.

My undergraduate courses in social work allowed me the opportunity to explore issues of domestic violence and child neglect, poverty and hunger, race and class, but it was my Women and Gender Studies minor that connected the dots for me. I discovered intersectionality – a feminist theory that can be used to identify and examine how social and cultural identities interact between systems of oppression, domination, or discrimination. Incorporating this knowledge into my volunteer and work experiences was not a difficult task, as the tendencies regarding poverty and its relationship with race, class and gender IMG_8150cannot be ignored. Instead of ignoring it, I tried to do something about it.

This is what led me to serve as an AmeriCorps VISTA at United Way of Madison County upon graduating college. AmeriCorps VISTA is a unique branch of National Service that works to build the capacity of organizations so that it can better serve the needs of the community. Most VISTAs work to improve the systems and programs so that low-income families and individuals have easier access to services or more resources they need to be successful. My work at United Way was focused on empowering people in poverty toward self-sufficiency. I built the capacity of the free community tax service program in the county. I increased the amount of taxes filed by 130%, managed $20,000 in grant funds, and aided in the distribution of thousands of dollars in refunds. With many great accomplishments, the greatest of which was the relationships I built with my co-workers and supervisor. They supported me, even when I leaned on them for much more than my AmeriCorps duties. I finally had found a way to use my organizational skills, passion for helping others, background in strengths-based social work, while pursing friendships with other service-minded individuals. I was hooked, so I committed to serve a sIMG_0037econd year, here in Seattle.

My decision to serve has allowed me to build my professional skills, pursue a career that helps others, and impact the lives of individuals. The individuals I have met through my service experiences, both collegiate and AmeriCorps, have changed my life for good. Ultimately, my commitment and dedication to service is simple: If I am happiest building relationships and serving others, how can I do anything else?

DSC01366About the Author Jacquee is Board Chair Communications Lead for the Seattle AmeriCorps Collaborative. In her second year of service, she enjoys using her background in social work, interest in writing, and pursuit of a career in nonprofits to lift the work of AmeriCorps members across the Seattle area.

Social at Spinnaker Bay Brewing

Join us in South Seattle at Spinnaker Bay Brewing on February 23 at 6:00 p.m. for some company and brews.

Founded in 2012 by Janet Spindler and Elissa Pryor, Spinnaker is currently Washington state’s only 100% woman founded and owned microbrewery. Rooted in family heritage, Janet’s great great great spinnakerbaybrewing_familyphotograndmother is the woman who brewed the barrel of beer shown in the picture below. Written on the original photograph are the words “What is home without beer?”

We say, hardly home.

Located at 5718 Rainier Ave S., Seattle WA 98118 (map) in the Hillman City neighborhood (1/2 mile south of Columbia City), you can get to Spinnaker via public transit on bus route 7.

They also offer growler refills, Cider, Mexican Coca-Cola, San Pellegrino sparkling water, hotdogs and other snacks. You are welcome to bring in food to enjoy. If you’re gluten-free they have bottled beers available right now, Omission pale ale, Dogfishhead Tweason’ale, which is made with straberries, sorghum and honey and Fox Tail Gluten-Free Pale Ale.

What’s more, we will be viewing the Sounders v Club America game that night – starting at 7:00 p.m.

Remember to follow us on Twitter @AmeriSeattle and join our Facebook Group for event updates and online connecting. Can’t wait to see you there!

Do you want to host the Seattle AmeriCorps Collaborative? Do you have a suggested location for our next event? Email us at

In Response To Nonprofit With Balls

I recently read an article from Nonprofit with Balls about the 12+ Pieces of Advice for Young Folks Graduating and Entering the Nonprofit Sector. As a young person, having graduated and entered the nonprofit sector, I skeptically read this as yet another article telling me how to behave, what to do, etc.

Didn’t I get enough of this from, um, I don’t know, my parents? But, as I read the advice, it was the exact advice I had been giving to my friends who sought meaningful experiences in the nonprofit sector. Here are my thoughts on his advice, and ways you can make sure you follow it:

He first advised to get several mentors, a critical piece of advice for young folks. I’ve taken a liking to embracing my Midwestern background, and going full force “outgoing” on some cold Seattle natives to seek out mentors in the nonprofit world. I also echo his advice to network all the time. During my first week of service as a VISTA Leader, I immediately began attending networking events such as the Young Nonprofit Professionals Network, Young Professional of Seattle, Emerging Leaders, and Seattle AmeriCorps Collaborative events. I highly advise cultivating a network of nonprofit professionals, and developing mentors in multiple areas to continue your growth as a service leader and professional.

I agree with the advice to learn one thing from everything – This is life advice. If you feel like an experience was a waste of time, then you’re adulting wrong.

On the note of adulting, crappy stuff might happen, and being in AmeriCorps prepares you for the crappiest of crap. But, we need to stop complaining about it on social media. No, you will not get all the thanks you deserve. Yes, there is red tape that will stop you from changing things immediately. No, you are not always right and your ideas are not always that amazing. Yes, you have amazing ideas but you need to be patient! It rains in Seattle, the bus is late, people are frustrating… Determination, commitment and persistence are just a few of the most valuable characteristics that AmeriCorps members have, AND these are the characteristics that are necessary to continue a career in nonprofits. It’s important to start everyday with gratitude, understand your role, and don’t talk bad about anyone.

Tune out those who are judging you based on your generation and realize how awesome you are. You don’t fit into a box, and if this generation is good at one thinenhanced-27784-1398278081-1g, it’s challenging the boxes and categories that too many people get placed into. Push back and be yourself. I think T-Swift said it best… haters gonna hate hate hate hate hate.

Does anyone remember Lily Moscovitz, famed local television star from “Shut Up and Listen” in the Princess Diaries? But really, we could always be better listeners.

The last one I want to reiterate, do not start a nonprofit. I repeat, do not start a nonprofit. I can’t tell you how frustrating it’s been, even with my limited experience, to hear people say they want to start their own nonprofit. Before you think about this, consider the consequences (I recommend watching Poverty, Inc.). Blogger said it best:

Seriously, this could be its own blog post, but please do careful research before starting a nonprofit. Most likely, another organization is doing something that aligns with your idea. Some nonprofits should be started, but more often than not, I see orgs that are duplicating other services, or are well-intentioned but don’t consider the consequences (e.g., “Let’s collect and send sewing machines to Africa!”)

Check out the other valuable pieces of advice he offers:

  • Have fun, but pay attention.
  • If you want to change the world, stick around.
  • Save for retirement.
  • Do your job, and do it well.
  • Dress professionally.
  • Take time for the people you love.
  • Learn all aspects of the field.
  • Be generous with giving credit to others.
  • Be gracious in both success and failure.
  • Take it easy on yourself.
  • Do not start a nonprofit (I though I should include this one again). 
  • Develop a good sense of humor.

Overall, young nonprofit leaders have a lot to learn from others, and it would do us well to pay attention. I, myself, know that this whole nonprofit career thing has been and will continue to be a journey of lessons. Admittedly, it’s a journey I am really looking forward to having.


About the Author Jacquee is Communications Lead for the Seattle AmeriCorps Collaborative. In her second year of service, she enjoys using her background in social work, interest in writing, and pursuit of a career in nonprofits to lift the work of AmeriCorps members across the Seattle area.

Story Sharing at Chuck’s

We had over 30 AmeriCorps members (and friends) come to Chuck’s Hop Shop to celebrate and connect on MLK Day!


On Monday, January 18, Seattle AmeriCorps Collaborative members gathered at Chuck’s Hop Shop in the Central District to share stories and laughs. We took up an entire long table right in the middle of the shop, and took some time to share our MLK experiences and reflect. We heard conversations from social justice issues, non-profit management troubleshooting, Star Wars and upcoming hiking trips. Corps members made connections about our open board positions, new interests, and sparked conversations for almost 5 hours.

Overall, we are incredibly happy about the amount of people who were able to join us on MLK Day. We can’t wait to see you at our next event!

Call for Leadership – Apply Today!

We are seeking three new executive board members to begin service in late February. The Executive Board is a working board that collectively plans for and administers the services and programs of the Seattle AmeriCorps Collaborative. As the principal governing body of SAC, the Executive Board makes strategic decisions to advance the organization’s mission, representing the interests of the overall network of AmeriCorps programs and members that engage with SAC. Basic requirements for serving on the Executive Board are:

  1. Be a currently serving AmeriCorps member at time of application
  2. Attend monthly board meetings
  3. Show dedication to enhancing the AmeriCorps experience for members in Seattle

Those who join the Executive Board develop professional skills that make them highly employable upon finishing their AmeriCorps terms. Each position requires leadership and the ability to work in a dynamic team setting. What’s more, your team is in control of SAC’s strategy and activities; these higher-level responsibilities can truly foster growth for someone whose AmeriCorps position is considered entry level. Depending on your position within the Board, you may be tasked with planning an event for 50-100 people, developing a small grant proposal, conducting member surveys and analyzing the data, developing our website, creating an annual budget, and more. To say that you are on the board of a nonprofit dedicated to leveraging the impact of national service members looks great on a resume, and throughout the year you will have the opportunity to make new contacts that can benefit your career. We are proud to say that all three outgoing board members have recently secured nonprofit jobs, and we hope you will bring your amazing skills and leadership to our board this year.

We are currently recruiting for the following positions for the 2016 year: Board Chair, Events Lead, and Membership Development Lead.

Duties of the Board Chair include:

  • Serve as the face of the organization when interacting with events and sponsor groups
  • Encourage and oversee the work of the officers, activities, and organizational development.
  • Plan agendas for monthly meetings
  • Develop and maintain infrastructure of organization through bylaws, constitution, policies, procedures, and partnerships/contracts
  • Oversee budget

Duties of the Events Lead include:

  • Create solidarity among fellow current AmeriCorps members
  • Offer a small social or service events at least once month
  • Help lead the annual Fall Living on a Stipend Presentation
  • Identify and promote external opportunities for member interaction

Duties of the Membership Development Lead include:

  • Create and share personal and professional growth opportunities for members
  • Determine needs of members and develop appropriate services to meet those needs
  • Identify ambassadors in AmeriCorps cohorts to assist with major events
  • Help lead the annual Spring Job Fair

Email us at and let us know what position you are interested in! Deadline for applications is February 5, 2016.