Volunteers are the lifeblood of community organizing, but there is no reason we should not take advantage of available resources to help us grow the resistance here in Seattle. In full disclosure, I’ve granted the community a year of my unemployment checks to sustain my own volunteer work to help build the movement. It was my choice and my sacrifice to walk away from two careers to do so and I now have the honor and privilege of saying I had a hand in bringing to life the critical grassroots organization in Seattle that we’ve come to call SAFE (Standing Against Foreclosure & Eviction).
SAFE exists today and is growing because many people like myself saw how important it was to organize, cared, and volunteered our time to make it happen. SAFE is a classic grassroots organization that was built from nothing save our rich history of struggle. People have volunteered to do everything from being present at our meetings, speaking out, bringing coalitions together, showing up at actions, stepping forward to draft SAFE’s literature and framework, planning strategy, doing work to present SAFE online, making calls, addressing letters, and spreading the word. This is something to be proud of.
I will never make the fifty to seventy thousand dollars a year I could have made as a school teacher or commercial electrician, but I’m okay with that knowing what we’re building. I first approached the two careers to begin with, because I wanted to make a difference in a union and working with other people. I found that both left me wanting some more direct and radical way to make an impact.