Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service 2022

January 14, 2022 / GGLO

“Everybody can be great because everybody can serve.” — Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

As designers, we put people at the center of every design, through questioning and research about what will best serve their needs, and through exploring narratives of how people will interact with our completed work. Outside of our project work, we incorporate this goal into our charitable giving and volunteer service efforts as well. From mentoring others, to fundraising for and leading non-profit organizations, we at GGLO value and actively work towards Dr. King’s vision of a beloved community. Our offices are closed on January 17 to honor his legacy and this day of service.

Below are some of the ways that GGLOers volunteer and give back to our community.

Simba Mafundikwa volunteers with the ACE Mentor Program in Seattle. He says, “being an ACE mentor is rewarding for me because I see the students’ enthusiasm to learn and grow over their participation in the program. I leave ACE meetings inspired by the students’ ideas and excited for them to realize their goals. As a designer, I offer technical advice to the students, specifically when it comes to drawing, modeling, and storytelling. I do my best to inspire the students to think outside the box and be themselves, as I have learned that is when you do your best design work.” He and several other GGLOers volunteer with this program together and he appreciates this additional opportunity to work with and learn from his colleagues.

Whitney Lewis began volunteering with AIA Seattle soon after moving here in 2015 and is part of their Diversity Roundtable, Chair of the Professional Practice Committee, and JEDI Council, and is on the Board of Directors. She says, “I wanted to be immersed in the ‘architecture scene’ but to also focus on networking, public speaking, and giving back. Volunteering with AIA led to my participation in other committees and to join initiatives that move the entire chapter forward in a positive direction especially on climate, housing, and EDI. I look at volunteering as the opportunity to work on issues larger than yourself, to problem solve, and to connect. You have to connect the dots, connect with other working professionals, committees, and organizations but most importantly you have to listen. I wouldn’t be the designer I am or the volunteer that I am today, without practicing both.”

Marieke Lacasse has been involved with a variety of volunteer efforts, from park or community-led efforts and affordable/homelessness solutions, to professional associations including WASLA, ULI, ASLA, and USGBC. She is also the chair of GGLO’s Firm Giving committee. Marieke says, “it’s meaningful to donate your time for causes that make a change in other people’s lives. As a landscape architect, my plant knowledge has been crucial when helping with volunteering efforts. This includes the basics of plant placement, soil, sun/water needs but also including mostly natives, making sure what we specify is readily available, and adapting to changes in the field.”

Kevin Reed first volunteered with Habitat for Humanity in college in Virginia and continued his involvement when he moved to Seattle—working on everything from demolition and renovation to digging trenches, trim work, and siding. Kevin says, “I found that the mission and ideals of Habitat for Humanity lined up perfectly with my own and it created the foundation of what I wanted to pursue in my own professional life. My favorite part is getting to see the dedication of the crews and families who are working to build their future homes. From an architect’s perspective, the experience of working in the field and actually building what we draw is the best experience. Ultimately, the most fulfilling part is that we as volunteers get to see how our work impacts people in the real world and that we get to build something with people who will actually live in it.”

Lyndsay Watkins volunteers with the Sierra Club Idaho chapter and is on the board to establish the ACE Mentor Program in Idaho. She says,” I’ve always aimed to get out into the community and participate in different volunteer opportunities. I’ve been making an effort to look into volunteer efforts that align with my love of the outdoors and environmental education. The environmentally-focused opportunities have always been really exciting and engaging for me but overall, I love seeing positive changes happen from community effort–like little kids learning about watershed or gardening or someone interacting with an installation in a new way that brings joy. I utilize my skills as a designer differently in each volunteer effort. I love collaborating with others and if there’s an opportunity to create or build something, I’m there!”

Rachel Geniesse was a part of GGLO’s volunteer event for WeCare, which gave children the opportunity to create holiday gifts for their families and friends. The volunteer team worked together to plan, assemble, and deliver paper animal masks to members of the Boys & Girls Club. Rachel says, “I love working with kids, and even though this was a virtual event, it was great knowing the work we did assembling the craft kits was enabling a child to create something special for either themselves or a member of their family. I was able to use my skills as a graphic designer to modify complex instruction booklets into easy-to-read kid versions—making the craft accessible to kids of all ages.”

Ray Sayers has been volunteering as a mentor to architectural students at the University of Washington and University of Idaho since 2020. He says “I enjoy getting to know the next generation of young designers and learning about what motivates them. As an architect, I am able to provide them with feedback on their studio projects, share tips for navigating the professional world, and listen to their experiences. It’s a great way to give back to the programs that shaped me into the architect I am today.”