As many of you may know, Natural Habitat Adventures’ headquarters is on the edge of Boulder, CO, an area that was devastated by the Colorado floods less than a month ago. We are fortunate our office is in an area that wasn’t damaged by the floods, but many of our staff members’ homes and loved ones were affected by the flooding.
Last Friday, we closed the office to spend the day volunteering at the Relief Exchange, a grassroots donation exchange for Coloradans who lost their homes and belongings in the floods. It was arguably our most impactful volunteer day to date.
Our community outreach coordinator, Sara Higgins, worked hard to find a volunteer opportunity that would involve helping victims of the floods. When Higgins was connected with Sarah Martin and Relief Exchange it seemed like a perfect match. Martin founded the Exchange in partnership with Conscious Alliance, and she was also one of the thousands of people who lost their home in the flood. She was in tears when Higgins spoke with her on the phone to arrange the volunteer day, so moved and grateful that 25 people were going to come help organize the donations that had come in. Before we came, they had been averaging about 3 volunteers per day.
We were tasked with sorting through the donations and figuring out how to best display the items in an orderly fashion in such tight quarters. We were amazed (and a little intimidated) by the number of donated items including shoes, clothing, kitchenware, furniture, and even pet carriers.
“When we arrived at the Relief Center, I thought our big crew would end up just bumping elbows amidst all the sorting that had to be done in a cramped space,” says Wendy Redal, Editorial Director at Nat Hab. “But a few hours later, it was amazing to see the order we had brought as a team to the piles and bags of clothing and toys and housewares that had been donated. The old adage about ‘many hands making light work’ was certainly proved by our efforts!”
By day’s end the warehouse was unrecognizable. When Martin returned in the afternoon, she was smiling from ear to ear (there may have been a few happy tears too) because of the transformation that had taken place in the warehouse.
“It is so great to be able to do something to help our community,” says Wendy Klausner, Nat Hab Adventure Specialist. “I helped a woman pick out a comfy down coat, it was snowing outside when she entered wearing a sweat shirt. She seemed cold and miserable and left much cheered up.”
It’s days like these that make me incredibly proud to work for Natural Habitat Adventures. Our Creative Director Mark Hickey put it best that day: “The most rewarding element was seeing how well everyone from our team worked together on smaller tasks contributing to the greater goal of the day. Like a swarm of busy bees working in unison towards the common objective.”
If you’d like to donate to Relief Exchange or volunteer your time there if you live in Colorado, check out their website: http://www.youcaring.com/coloradoflood.
And of course a Nat Hab volunteer day wouldn’t be complete without bonding over beers at the end of the day! After a hard days’ work, we headed over to our favorite Boulder watering hole, the Bohemian Biergarten, to celebrate Octoberfest Nat Hab style. (Check out the sweet polar bear hat on our Churchill Polar Bears Destination Manager, Jeannette!)