Find a unique way to serve your community | Guest View

By Alicia Crank | Sep 09, 2017
Alicia Crank

The three-plus years I’ve been in Edmonds have brought both fun and eye-opening experiences. One that has challenged me to find ways to integrate myself in my new home, learn and adapt to a new culture (Pacific Northwest vs. Bay Area) as well as how to be a participant in my community – not just an observer.

From the trial and error of finding volunteer opportunities that were the best fit for me personally and professionally, to choosing when to be vocal about political issues that affect our city, Edmonds feels like home.

Over the past year or so, I’ve had several neighbors reach out to me via social media or at community events asking my advice on how they could do this themselves.

Some of these neighbors are longtime Edmonds residents, while some are transplants from other parts of Washington state and beyond.

There is no one – and perfect – answer, which is a good thing.

This speaks to the diverse pathways one can go down to find what fits them best. There are several individualized places you can go and look for ways to serve and connect, but how awesome would it be to have a centralized place online where one could look up civic, community and professional volunteer/networking opportunities that serve Edmonds?

Just a thought.

With the upcoming elections in Edmonds (Port Commission, City Council, School Board), I find myself receiving even more emails and inquiries around this topic – but with a bit of a twist.

Women who have reached out to me are feeling more emboldened to seek office, but unsure as where to start.

The other twist has been around people of color, who feel they wouldn’t be taken seriously in going after leadership roles where they are in the minority. I’ve experienced both sides of this coin and humbly offer the following advice:

• Don’t let fear (your own, or judgment from others who intimidate) dictate going down this journey. Coulda-woulda-shoulda is far worse than actually trying.

• Find the starting point that you feel most comfortable with. There are several appointment-based boards and commissions you can apply for via the city of Edmonds. There are also several service-based clubs in Edmonds always looking for members and volunteers to help staff communitywide events.

• I believe Edmonds is a more diverse community than we see on the surface, and I encourage those communities to be more visible, knowing it can be uncomfortable for some. In the end, it’s a great benefit to all of us.

• Getting your foot in the door isn’t always easy. Don’t be afraid to cannonball and make yourself known, but also be prepared for both praise and scrutiny. Your life becomes a little less private once you decide you want to step up and serve.

• Finally, there are groups both locally and statewide willing to help you find your voice. There are a number of neighborhood groups in Edmonds that are facilitating change, and can be found on Facebook.

Organizations like Emerge Washington and NWPC help train women to run for office. I encourage all of my fellow Edmonds residents to find their way to be part of the community. Even if you work several cities away, there are opportunities, occasional to regular, that fit all of us.

Alicia Crank serves on the boards of the Edmonds Chamber of Commerce, Edmonds Senior Center and on the city of Edmonds Planning Board. She also works in corporate relations for YWCA in Seattle and in Snohomish and King counties.


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