Name: John Syverson
Which property do you work at: I’m based in the main office, but oversee all properties.
What is your role at LIHI: I’m the facilities manager. I assist other staff members in maintaining the buildings on a day-to-day basis.
How long have you worked at LIHI: Since 1998!
Most recent volunteer project you supervised or participated in at LIHI: This week we have 17 high school students visiting LIHI. One of the Volunteer Program Coordinators approached me to help find some sites that might have a project suitable for the students. I was able to help her find a painting project at the Frye and a landscaping project at Martin Court. Both projects are greatly needed and I’m excited to have them.
Tell us a story from one of the volunteer projects you supervised: A year or two ago we had a group of high school students from Texas here as part of an alternative spring break trip. The students knew they would be volunteering, but had no idea what the experience would be like. I don’t think most had ever volunteered before. I worked with them for a week to rehab some commercial space in one of our apartment buildings. They were given several opportunities to interact with LIHI residents and spent some time visiting other housing and homelessness agencies in Seattle as well. By the end of the week, I could tell they were very much changed and humbled by the experience. They couldn’t believe that so many people were unable to afford housing. They were shocked by the number of people standing in line for food at a nearby mission. I enjoyed being a part of an experience that I felt helped alter some perspectives.
Best benefit to working with volunteers: It’s nice to know that people are still willing to help other people. We’re fortunate to have a lot of volunteers in this area. Some cities aren’t so lucky.
Most sincere comment you’ve ever heard from a volunteer: I once had a volunteer tell me about his personal experience with homelessness as a child. He was volunteering with a group of Washington State alumni that had received a scholarship to attend college. He qualified for the scholarship based on income. As a child, he spent seven years living in a car with his mother. In his teen years, they were able to move into low-income housing. He never thought he would be able to go to college, but was so grateful for the experience. He truly believed that without the stable housing and the scholarship he received he never would have succeeded in college. He wanted to volunteer with a housing agency as a way to give back to those in a similar situation. He was a great guy.
Do you volunteer outside of LIHI: Yes, I’ve volunteered about 700 hours in the community over the last decade or so. I’ve constructed houses with Habitat for Humanity, built handicap ramps with the City of Seattle, volunteered with numerous low-income individuals, erected flagpoles at the Washington Memorial Cemetery and participated in the One Night Count.