Giving Back

Sometime in my early forties, I decided it was time for me to give back to the community. Victoria is my home, and since I have neither the patience nor the stomach for politics at the municipal level, I felt like I should start looking for a board on which to sit.

While I was researching various boards with openings (there are a couple on which I’d dearly love to sit once I move on from VicTL) my life hit that seismic shift in January of 2015. I dropped the search but barely a month later, I found myself in a room full of people trying to bring a tool library to Victoria. A few months after that, I was still working with that passionate group and stepped up to be one of the founding board members.

It hasn’t been a particularly linear, steady, nor easy path to get to where we are now — open, just one day a week, but operating more or less as we’d envisioned. We pulled it together out of sheer force of will and by putting in a lot of hours (I estimated that I put in over 60 hours of cataloguing time in the span of about 3 weeks) and more than a little sweat equity, and I couldn’t be more proud. To anyone who has pulled together a business or a non-profit or a cooperative, it is very much like giving birth. There’s a lot of lead up, a big splashy opening, and then more care and feeding than you ever anticipated. Oh, and everyone has an opinion about how it should be raised.

Last night, we had a board meeting and I’ll admit I left there equal parts excited and overwhelmed. There’s so much more to do and our priorities are getting volunteers trained, getting grant money, and getting more members to sign up, so we can buy more tools, and be open more hours!

Posing with the Golden Growler at Philips

So all of this was whirring in not quite the back of my mind while at work (where I am scanning a very cool but can’t-talk-about-it-yet set of items) when my phone rang — it was someone from Philips Brewery calling to say I’d been nominated and selected as this month’s recipient of the Golden Growler for my community service with the tool library. I almost cried because the timing couldn’t have been much better.

I juggled things around to go pick it up: the growler was filled today (with the Longboat Chocolate Porter, yum!) and came with tokens for another 11 refills. It’s very unexpected but nice to be a “sung” hero for doing work that I’m ridiculously passionate about (seriously, I’d have bailed long ago if this weren’t a project that means so much to me) — and at the end of the day, I still get to work with a really spectacular group of people who each bring their own passion, skills, and leadership to the table.

Growler or not, giving back is just the right thing to do, and I am going to keep on doing it.

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