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May Volunteer of the Month: Katie Hays

Katie Hays Volunteer of the Month May 2019

My family and I have lived in West Highlands Park for over six years now. When I was expecting my second child, I was already a regular at the Toddler Playgroup at Blakely Hall. Volunteer leader Lara announced that she needed a replacement.

I had no plans to volunteer for the toddler playgroup, but the responsibilities seemed to be minimal because most of the duties would be maintained by Lara’s partner, Thuan Stevens.

However, I was reluctant to offer to help at first. I didn’t know how committed I would be to the group with a new child entering my life. But then I remembered hearing that this group was started ten years ago, and I thought, “How can’t I support something that’s been nurtured by community moms for so long?!?” I’m so happy I made the leap!

At Toddler Playgroup friendships are forged at our weekly groups that will help many parents and caregivers through some challenging years. The bond that some of the kids share is heartwarming as well.

For me, I was raised in rural Southern California where I couldn’t leave the house without seeing a familiar face. Upon moving to Issaquah Highlands, I found anonymity around town to be isolating. My husband and I didn’t make connections very quickly. Once I began volunteering, I began to see familiar, shining faces everywhere. People are what make a place home and the playgroup made this a home for us.

Are you thinking of starting a group? What have you got to lose? You just might meet your newest best friend. It might take time but you’re not going to find a more supportive community than Issaquah Highlands. If it’s something you enjoy doing, why not do it with like-minded neighbors?

I’ve had occasional periods of burnout, but something magical happens. People offer to help and really lighten the load! It’s inspiring to see how much our community members actually want to help.

Thinking about joining us at playgroup? Come as you are! Bring your kid(s) and that should do it. You’re likely to meet a newcomer in the same boat as you. Plus, there will be some seasoned members. Mothers, fathers, nannies, Au pairs, and grandparents. I’ll be there (provided my family is healthy), trying to rein in my wildlings. Come say “hi” if I’m distracted. Your kid doesn’t need to sit still.  Doesn’t need to be quiet. Just be there and we will have some fun, sing some songs, and maybe you’ll find your newest friends.

As published in May 2019 Connections