As Holly Wywrich thought about how she would celebrate her 30th birthday last year, inspiration struck. She told her husband, Tom, about her idea. Soon, her friends received this e-mail:
“Nothing makes Holly happier than volunteering. Not even puppies,” Tom wrote. “I have watched Holly knife through blackberry bushes in the pouring rain with the flu. I’ve seen
her scrub varnish off an elementary school floor for two days straight. I’ve seen Holly dig a trench through pure clay to plant blueberry trees. In a bit more than a month, my wife will reach the mere age of 30. Undoubtedly, all of her best years are ahead of her. In celebration of that future, Holly has asked that her friends spend one day with her doing what she loves most: volunteering.”
On Seattle Works Day last year, Holly got her birthday wish as more than 20 friends hauled logs, layered mulch and cleared paths on a sunny Saturday. It was Holly’s idea of a perfect birthday- watching her friends make an IMPACT!
Celebrating a milestone birthday with a volunteer work party may seem surprising to some, but not to those who know Holly. She is a tireless promoter for volunteerism in the community. Whether it’s serving on the board for Flash Volunteer, which makes it easy and quick for people to find upcoming volunteer opportunities near to where they live, work and play, organizing events for BEAN, a group connecting young professionals to service, or leading volunteers with Zeno, Holly is always looking to make a difference.
At Zeno’s MathFest events, city-wide celebrations of elementary-school math power, Holly leads volunteers who greet and register the hundreds of families attending these one-of-a-kind events. She also leads volunteers in playing math games with kids. Holly’s team members rave about how rewarding it is volunteering under her leadership.
As a volunteer leader on the committee that plans Zeno’s fundraising wine auction, Make a Move for Math, Holly is always willing to roll up her sleeves and execute the task at hand. This year she fearlessly approached business around Washington to secure items for the silent auction. She also built a games app table for iPhones, Android and the Windows phone!
What makes Holly invaluable as a volunteer leader is her ability to innovate, problem solve, and take ownership of her area of responsibility. Whether it’s figuring out how to distribute the volunteers, estimating the rate at which they pass out T-shirts, or looking for the most efficient way to move families through a MathFest registration line, she gets the job done.
“I believe that we’re all in this together,” Holly says. “It doesn’t matter that I’m not a teacher, or that I don’t have children. The families who benefit from Zeno’s programs are part of my community. As a volunteer, I am supporting my community by showing parents that I care, by providing a resource to teachers, and by setting an example for kids to care about their education.”
When you ask Holly about her greatest moment volunteering with Zeno, it’s not at all about her, but the Zeno mission to spread positive attitudes about math to children everywhere. She recalls the Make a Move 4 Math dinner in 2011 when the keynote speaker, Greg White from LEARN Charter School Network, threw out his prepared speech and instead announced that he wanted to bring Zeno to his schools in Chicago because he was so inspired by Zeno’s impact on children.
Yes, she appreciates the fun, talented and enthusiastic people she volunteers with at Zeno and elsewhere. But whether she is preparing children to succeed in math, guiding an innovative volunteer recruitment organization, or simultaneously beating back blackberry brambles and the flu, Holly gives so much more than just hours of service to her community. She truly makes our communities a better place and inspires us all to roll up our sleeves and serve!