REACH Community Development Donor Luncheon
When I left corporate life in June 2007, I made a proclamation of sorts. In my farewell letter I wrote, “… it’s time to simplify and live my values. Focus on having and sharing experiences rather than making money and buying stuff. Biking instead of driving. Taking pictures. Gardening. Raising chickens. Playing with the dogs. Writing letters. Learning new tricks. Climbing rocks. Volunteering. And yes, smelling the roses.”
By November of that year I had covered the list and then some, with the exception of volunteering… Somehow I hadn’t found (made) the time, and wasn’t quite sure who I wanted to work with. That all changed one night while throwing darts at a pub with my husband. A few folks were playing darts next to us, and before long we were getting schooled by a couple of AmeriCorps Vista volunteers. Turns out one of them had just moved to Portland to work with REACH Community Development. REACH is Portland non-profit that provides affordable housing, free home repairs for senior and disabled homeowners, and programs to help residents “stay in their housing, raise their standard of living and connect to local resources and opportunities.”
Before long he learned I was a photographer, and I kid you not, his next words were, “Ever do any pro bono work?” At this point in my young career as a photographer, it seemed ALL I did was pro bono work. But my own words echoed in my head, reminding me of my values and I agreed to shoot an upcoming Community Builders event.
I have been volunteering for REACH ever since, shooting various events and work days throughout the year and sponsoring the 2008 and 2009 Paint & Repair-a-thon. This year, however, marked my first commissioned projects for REACH, and will culminate next week at the REACH Annual Donor Lunch. Each year they do a slideshow or video presentation, and I am honored they asked me to work on the piece this year. Even more exciting for me is the fact that my husband composed and performed a beautiful piano piece for the soundtrack.
As I don’t want to take away from next week’s event, I will wait to post the presentation. In the mean time, do check out REACH’s website, and if you’re so inclined, sign up as a volunteer or donor. It will be time/money well spent. The best part by far, though, is meeting the people who’s lives are directly impacted by REACH’s programs. The stories are inspiring, moving, and some are nothing short of astounding.