Every so often, you meet someone whose passion is woven into the very essence of their being, as if they have a permanent cloak wrapped around their shoulders everyone can see, but not see, informing all of what this individual is all about. These individuals are so utterly, blindingly committed to their passion, be it writing, art, volunteerism, music, activism, or any number of other passions, that it is difficult to see them in any other light. When you encounter one of these individuals, they have the innate ability to enliven and embolden your life, often without your explicit consent, because they are so overwhelmingly wrapped up in what they believe.

Amanda Hurly, our 2017 Fourth Quarter Community Commitment Award recipient, is one of these individuals. Her inexhaustible passion for volunteering, for helping others, for fighting for human rights, for creating strong and viable communities around her, is something everyone who meets her immediately understands. It is at the core of who she is. An Amanda without volunteering is an Amanda none of us know. Because of this, it’s difficult to distill Amanda and everything she does down, though I will give it my best shot.

Have you ever been to one of those big events, like an American Cancer Society walk, and wondered: who puts all this entertainment together, because I am thoroughly entertained? It surely must be a slew of people getting together to figure all this out. In the case of the American Cancer Society walk that took place at CenturyLink Field this past October, that slew of people was Amanda. She volunteered as the Entertainment Coordinator, with the explicit instructions to “pump people up”, which she did to great success. For the roughly 5,000 people who walked to raise money to fight cancer, Amanda set up a student band, a quartet, an Elvis impersonator, an African drummer, a DJ, and a bagpiper. People were certainly pumped. And if you thought that’s where Amanda’s involvement with the walk ended, you’d be wrong. Because not only was she coordinating with these various musicians leading up to the event, as well as being there early and staying late to ensure everything got taken care of, she was also a participant, looking to raise money from her family and friends to support a cause close to her heart. In the end, she raised over $400 to help fight cancer. Just awesome.

How does one get involved in something like this, you ask? You volunteer at another organization, of course. Because Amanda is who she is, she found out about the American Cancer Society opportunity by participation with the GSBA (Greater Seattle Business Association), where she met someone because of the very bright shirts they wore one day. From there, Amanda’s connection to cancer and cancer awareness shone through, and she and her new friend involved themselves with the American Cancer Society walk.

Along with this GSBA connection, Amanda also volunteers with the GSBA Scholarship Fund, which provides scholarships to LGBTQ and allied students who show leadership potential and are active in their communities. Amanda reads up to 25 applications with a team, from which they pass along five to a smaller pool from which interviews are granted. Amanda then helps with the interview process, interviewing the potential scholarship recipients, from which a few are selected to receive the scholarship.

But wait, there’s more! Amanda participates heavily in the annual Seattle PrideFest, where Verity has sponsored a booth for the past few years. The first year Amanda volunteered, she spent 8 hours at the Verity booth, engaging people who walked by and generally having a fantastic time. In fact, she had such a fantastic time that the following year she helped coordinate the entire event. That went so well (not in her own words, but we all know it went fantastically well), she agreed to coordinate again in 2017. And she’ll be coordinating Verity’s involvement again in 2018. Each year, our participation has grown, the activities we have are upgraded, and the swag we hand out has gotten more unique. This is all because of Amanda’s hard work, her dedication to always pushing forward, of always trying to do something new, to engage with the communities around her.

Amanda of course couldn’t do all of this on her own, and she is quick to point out where she’s had help, or where she didn’t really do anything but show up, or where others did more than she did. And it’s true, there has been a lot of help; there is no way to do all of this without help. But, this is often the tactic those individuals who wear their passion on their sleeve, so to speak. They think: I could have done more, I didn’t do much, it was nothing at all. It may seem like nothing to you, Amanda, but it is a HECK OF A LOT from where the rest of us sit. We know you couldn’t do this all alone, but you are our champion, the one pushing us forward, and we will gladly hitch our trailer to your wagon train and head on out into the realm of volunteering and community strengthening you feel so deeply in your soul.

All of this speaks towards Amanda’s desire to create open, diverse, inclusive, supportive communities around her. It’s why she fits in so well here at Verity. Amanda truly lives our mission of promoting strong and viable communities. Amanda embodies our idea of volunteering, of always looking for a way to help, and to help better, and not just to help once but again and again and again. That’s how we move forward, both as individuals and as communities. We have to continue going back, pushing for more, and encouraging those around us to help as well. Amanda, you do this so well, and we are so lucky to have you here at Verity, helping to make our mission and values a reality. Thank you for everything you do. Keep being awesome.

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