From vacationers to volunteers

Posted by on Aug 17, 2011 in Uncategorized | Comments Off on From vacationers to volunteers

From vacationers to volunteers

“You need community, even when you’re on vacation,” says Haley Herrin. Although she and her family live in Seattle, Haley, her twin sister Hanna, and their mother Julie have found community by serving as volunteer baristas at the South Whidbey Commons. A non-profit organization, the offerings of the Commons include a Coffeehouse Bookstore, a workplace training program, a venue for arts and cultural events, a play-and-learn program for preschool children, and more.

Volunteering at the Commons has helped Haley and Hanna get to know people they wouldn’t otherwise have met and has also given them skills they’ll soon apply when they go to college. “I got a job at the University of Portland that I’m going to start soon,” says Hanna. “I feel more prepared for it because I’ve had this experience—even though the new job doesn’t deal with food. The organizing and communication skills I gained will be helpful anywhere.”

Haley and Hanna feel nostalgic about the fact that their carefree summers on Whidbey Island are coming to an end. They recall the years during which their parents fixed up a summer home in the Maxwelton area—a time when they discovered that even the beach can get monotonous after a while. So, when Julie saw an ad for volunteer baristas in the South Whidbey Record, they investigated, and the girls soon began volunteering.

“You volunteer for a limited amount of time.” says Julie. “It’s like a vacation from your vacation.” Although she’d wanted to volunteer herself from the beginning, she allowed her daughters to have the experience to themselves until last year, when she also began volunteering.

“Haley and I played an integral part in training our mom,” says Hanna. “We were constantly quizzing her on things like the order of drink preparation,” adds Haley.

“The experience of dealing with the public has really brought the girls out of their shells,” says Julie, who discovered that she liked working with high-school-aged volunteers, and enjoyed building their confidence.

“Volunteering at the Commons is a lot of responsibility,” says Hanna. “But it’s fun.” The Herrins have had so much fun, in fact, that they’re not yet willing for it to come to an end. “We’re going to volunteer during Christmas break,” says Haley.

This story was published in the South Whidbey Record on August 17, 2011.