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A Philanthropic Perk

For as long as I’ve been involved (which admittedly, is only five years) our chapter has budgeted a financial contribution to a non-profit organization of the president’s choice. This is a little bit of a ‘perk’ for the president, and an opportunity to give back. Heading into my year of service as President I thought a lot about this perk, and imagined tying it into a larger event, a volunteer opportunity for members (who remembers pulling out blackberries last summer???) or some other industry-wide event.

Well to be honest, after mulling that over a little more, I finally decided to pivot, and instead direct the funds to an organization that’s a little more personal for me.

I’ll explain. When I first moved to Seattle, I worked as an Americorps volunteer for a year. When that year was up, I was given the opportunity to work part time at two non-profits, and together they were able to offer me full-time employment and benefits. It doesn’t sound like much now, but at the time it was a blessing. This was during the middle of the recession and I was a recent college graduate.

One of those two organizations was called the Drachen Foundation. (link: https://www.drachen.org/)  The word ‘drachen’ means ‘kite’ in German, and little did I know, this Foundation is made up of some wonderful folks who have a very specific interest.

In the US, kites don’t hold much significance for us culturally. But around the world (and in fact in our own history) kites have played important roles. They’ve been used for celebrations, competitions, ceremonies, as a protest medium, to memorialize loved ones, to catch fish, to take aerial photographs, as a stepping stone to the invention of flight, to understand electricity and so much more.

Beyond learning more than I ever planned to know about kites, my time working at the Drachen Foundation provided a crash course in marketing and graphic design. I learned a ton about art and culture, working with a board of directors, planning events, creating websites, editing content, creating social media campaigns, fundraising, caring for donors (or ‘clients’), and much more.

Additionally, I was given an opportunity to travel to Guatemala where I experienced a kite festival in a remote indigenous community. The kites displayed at this festival are made of tissue paper supported by giant bamboo spars, and can reach up to 40 meters across. The artists use these paper kites as billboards to protest the genocide and oppression they have suffered at the hands of the government for decades. As you can imagine, this experience was impactful. (And site note, if you want to learn more, check out this YouTube video.) link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f0Zxkk-rSSQ

  

As I pondered this opportunity to direct $1,000 to the recipient of my choice, it became clear to me that the Drachen Foundation should be at the top of my list. While not directly connected to SMPS or what we do each day, it is my belief that we must support cultural institutions like the Drachen Foundation because they help us preserve our history and document and share our stories. In a frenetic, quickly changing place like Seattle, these are the organizations that help us retain our humanity.

So, to the Drachen Foundation, Ali Fujino, Scott Skinner and all of the board members, volunteers, friends and other kite enthusiasts in the Drachen family, thank you for letting me be a part of your family, and here’s to the wind!

 –   Erin Hatch, CPSM, SMPS Seattle President

Erin Hatch is SMPS Seattle’s 2018/2019 Chapter President. When she’s not working with the board of directors to keep the chapter humming along, she’s the Marketing Director at Weber Thompson, an interdisciplinary architecture firm in Seattle. You can reach her by email at [email protected]

 

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