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Why Lindsey Gives BIG

GiveBIG is back on May 8, 2019! We sat down with board member Lindsey to talk about why she’s giving BIG this year!

Q: Tell us a bit about your background.

Lindsey: I was born and raised in Iowa, but my mom is from Seattle so I always came to visit my extended family as a little girl and I knew that it was a place I wanted to live eventually. I met my husband out here and after law school, I moved here. Now I live in Pioneer Square with my husband, my son Mac who is 4, and my two dogs, Murph and Wayne. I am an attorney; I work as a construction law attorney at the law firm Cairncross & Hempelmann. I’ve been doing construction law for 14 years. I am on the board of Ryther, the Seattle Architecture Foundation, and the Seattle Fire Foundation. Our son Mac is adopted, a private adoption from infancy, and he is the greatest kid of all time!

Q: What inspired you to take on philanthropic pursuits and how did you get involved with Ryther?

Lindsey: My mom was always big on volunteering our time or doing nice things, especially around the holidays, so I was raised with that.

As for how I got involved with Ryther, a longtime client of mine is a board member here and invited me to the Ryther Luncheon three or four years ago. I was really impressed and really moved, but at the time I had two other boards that I was on (and a baby!), so I just felt a little overextended. And so I said that I would keep it on my radar for whenever time opened up.

I’m drawn to this cause in part due to the fact that [my husband and I] have some insight into foster care and adoption as a result of how we are growing our family.  Even though we didn’t foster children and we didn’t adopt Mac out of the foster program, the idea that families are created and that kids find you in different ways is a value I hold near and dear. Also, living in Pioneer Square, we have seen what can happen to kids with bright futures who have difficult lives and how early intervention is really important.

Q: Looking back on your childhood, what do you see as foundational to your success later in life?

Lindsey: There are so many layers to that, right? I think that what a lot of us that had a stable childhood felt was the sense of stability, permanency, and ownership. Like, I know where my home is, I know it’s my home, I know when I walk in that home that I’m welcome there and I know in my room that those things are mine.

So when I think back, I always had that stable, permanent place that I felt welcomed in. I remember some very specific things in my room that mattered to me. We actually had a fire at home when I was five. It had been Fire Prevention Week in kindergarten, literally the week before, so we did an evacuation plan and had to think about what we would save. The night it happened, my mom woke me up in the middle of the night and said there’s a fire and I remember even at 5 thinking “This is a little extreme for a drill”. But I got up, I grabbed my Cabbage Patch dolls, and we went out. I still remember what it looked like and what it felt like to think that we are going to lose a lot of our things and that’s from something that is an accident, not something that anyone did to me. And so that sense of displacement I can remember.

For kids that are in the foster care system, we know that it’s very rare they have one placement, so there is a lot of moving. There are always new rules, and new environments, new things that they have to adapt to, and no sense of ownership. And so they come [to Ryther] and have been shifted around so much that they truly do not have anything that is theirs. And I feel like that is more than we should ask any kid to deal with, especially given all that they have already had to deal with.

A: Why should others support GiveBIG this year?

Lindsey: GiveBIG has changed over the years, but it has remained a call to action where we are reminded, on one day, of all of these different organizations we can support. And it’s just too easy in our daily lives to say “I’m going to drop a check in the mail”, and maybe we don’t.

I really think that the call to action is that it’s fun to be a part of it. I think it’s a rallying cry for all of us. I think it reminds us of how lucky we are. But also, it can feel like dark times right now and this day reminds us that there are a ton of people in the community that are doing great work and rowing for the greater good and it gives you a chance to be part of it.

Those of us that are living fairly privileged and stable lives have a tendency to separate ourselves from the plight of the kids that come to Ryther and their families. It feels vulnerable to know that this is happening to kids and it’s happening within our justice system and in our foster care system. What I think is important for us all to acknowledge, even for just one day year, is that you are just one or two steps away from maybe being a person that needs the assistance at Ryther. When we stop separating ourselves from it and we allow ourselves to really think about what these kids need, that’s the moment you say, “Yes, of course I would give”.

To donate, visit the GiveBIG website!

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