Humbled by the Gates Foundation

By United Way of King County, on March 5, 2015 | In Volunteering

Meet Matthew, our Community Connections Coordinators VISTA. Hear about his amazing first day with us at United Way as they went on a scavenger hunt around Seattle and visiting some local non profits.

Matthew Ridgeway United Way VISTAGreetings my name is Matthew and I’m one of the new 2015-2016 AmeriCorps VISTA member at United Way of King County. A native son of California and a reveler of sorts, I have a hankering for public service and storytelling.

I am extremely jazzed to serve alongside such passionate people and to empathetically engage in the diverse stories of the communities.

As I sit to write this post reflecting on United Way, I contemplate the limitation of words and question the accuracy of statements in conveying my sentiment. How can words express a wondrous giant that stirs the soul, much like the charming portrait of Mt. Rainier against the backdrop of the city? I feel as was once expressed, to place adjectives on the day’s experience would be so rude as to leave price tags on purchases.

However, satiating our hunger for exploration, the scavenger hunt offered me a sense of place and connection to my new team, making for a remarkable first day. Everywhere we visited was equally as awesome.

I was incredibly impressed by the deep impact the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation makes in empowering communities domestically and internationally. As we toured the facility, engaging the interactive exhibits and talking to folks, I discovered the important efforts, alongside United Way, the Gates Foundation takes in promoting quality education, ending family homelessness, and supporting those truly in need.

Listening to public radio long enough, I’ve always heard the Gates are “dedicated to the idea that all people deserve the chance to live a healthy and productive life,” without truly understanding how. But today, I learned the Gates truly do create meaningful opportunities and pathways for many people by strengthening it’s strategic partners, like United Way, and the community’s most valuable resource, its human capital. The Gates Foundation will definitely be a site to revisit!


Next Stop: Starbucks

Last, but certainly not least, the team stopped at Starbucks to refuel and learn about another key partner of United Way, the Starbucks Foundation, and its philanthropic efforts. While sipping back a caramel brûlée latte and a couple of dirty chai’s, we delved into discussion amongst each other and imagined the incredible strides the Foundation is making to improve and empower communities both internationally and domestically.

Visiting a Starbucks with the sole purpose of understanding the organization’s social impact was a totally new experience for some of us and spun our perspective on one of Seattle’s most iconic brands. As a major supporter of United Way’s Community Resource Exchange, it’ll be quite profound to witness the compassion of Starbucks and the community come together to support those truly in need.

With much gratitude for the folks at United Way and our fabulous Supervisor, Ms. McGowan – the day was filled with a grand introduction to the city, thoughtful and inspiring stories of people fighting poverty, and the smiling faces of United Way and their community partners.

Overall, the mere 15,000 step journey proved to be enlightening for us to see how the community comes together to tackle some major social issues – indelibly etching great admiration and inspiration towards our year of service and the possibilities of beyond.

Interested what other VISTA’s are doing? Check out their posts.


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