Seattle can seem huge at times, especially as more apartment buildings go up, as street closures change on an hourly basis, and as it takes twenty minutes longer just to get across town. Yet, within the larger area that is Seattle, the neighborhoods and each of their unique communities create some of that small town feel many have come to enjoy other places, where one could live and work in the same small town and never have to leave. Some may find the prospect of living within two minutes of where you work gross, yucky, and entirely too much. When encountering people from your personal life and work life all within the same borders of community, it can be difficult to feel like you have a break from the work, even when you’re sitting out at your favorite neighborhood bar casually enjoying an adult beverage.
Especially in a service-oriented job that focuses on drawing members from the surrounding community, there may be days where it never stops, where you get questions about loans and accounts on Sundays, or a day off. This may drive some to move, or change jobs. Not Matt Knezevich. No, instead of fleeing, Matt has ingrained himself even more deeply into the Greenwood community, living just a few doors from the branch, working and living and relaxing in the same community. Those same things that may make you cringe when thinking about living near work are the exact same things that make Matt so excited to live and work where he does.
But, Matt doesn’t just live and work in the community; he is an essential part of the community. His volunteer work reaches out past Verity, helping as many people in his community as possible, while also keeping an excellent work/life/volunteer balance. One of his favorite places to volunteer is at the Phinney Neighborhood Association, or PNA. Verity volunteered at the PNA four our annual day of service, though Matt used that merely as a jumping off point.
For the past year, Matt has volunteered at the PNA’s Senior Center, where he’s helped in the garden. This garden provides fresh, inexpensive vegetables and herbs for the residents of the Senior Center throughout the growing season. This home-grown food is used for meals, to keep costs down, and to provide an excellent way for individuals at the Senior Center or in the community to play in the garden. Matt has done chores like harvesting, planting, rotating, cleaning up, and, of course, everyone’s favorite activity – weeding! His monthly volunteering goes a long way to ensuring a consistent garden and a place for delicious vegetables and herbs to flourish.
Matt also helps out at the PNA hanging their quarterly art shows at the main Phinney Center building. This provides local artists a space to show their work and share it with others in the community, as part of the monthly Art Walk happening in the Greenwood area on the second Friday of each month. Coming up in the middle of August, Matt will be a juror at the show. There’s also the PNA’s pancake breakfast that happens before the annual Car Show, where Matt has volunteered as well.
His work for the PNA doesn’t stop there, however. Last year, Matt helped put together the Local Business for a Local Cause silent auction, where the almost $1900 in proceeds were donated to the PNA Hot Meals program, which provides a hot meal to anyone who needs it, often at a highly subsidized rate. They always need funds, and Matt’s hard work getting twelve local businesses to donate to the auction and making arrangements to host the event at another local coop, Flying Bike Brewery, made it a resounding success, helping to fill the coffers right before the busy holiday season. Through his work with this, he’s created strong relationships with many other small businesses in the Greenwood area, which can only strengthen the already strong sense of community Matt and others feel.
This sense of community was on full display last year when the Greenwood neighborhood experienced a tragedy after a late-night explosion demolished several buildings in the area just south of 85th Street. Matt remembers the 2am blast and waking at 5am the next morning to go buy a push broom at the local Fred Meyer and join countless others out on the street helping to clean up and start to piece the neighborhood back together. It’s this strong desire to help and be part of something larger that had Matt say, “It’s nice to see how much good people can do by going out of their way just a little bit.”
Matt also recognizes he doesn’t, even can’t, do all of this alone, and he credits his Verity teammates, along with his community, in helping to grow this desire to participate in the community. Many of the relationships he and the previous manager, Jeff Condron, built just as the branch was opening almost two years ago are still going strong, despite Jeff moving on to manage a different branch. It’s these connections and strong sense of community that continue to create the type of place Matt wants to live and work. Matt is a shining example of our tagline: “In the Community. By the Community. For the Community.” And for that, we thank you, Matt, for everything you’ve done and everything you’re going to do. We can’t wait to see what happens next.
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