Board Member and Volunteer James Thomas Helps Us Celebrate National Volunteer Week

by Ingrid Hartsock, Seattle Goodwill
April 25, 2013

This week, all across the country individuals and communities are celebrating the power of volunteerism. National Volunteer Week is about taking action and encouraging individuals to be at the center of social change. Here at Seattle Goodwill, volunteers are making a difference by donating their time and talents to uplift our community. Whether it is creating centerpieces for special events, tutoring English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) students, modeling vintage fashions, or leading our organization as a board or committee member – Goodwill volunteers are doing it all!

James Thomas, Corporate Diversity Affairs Director at Nordstrom and Goodwill board member, recently volunteered his time to speak to our Retail and Customer Service Program students. Take a moment to learn what inspires James to make a difference in our community.

James ThomasWhat does volunteerism mean to you?
Volunteerism to me is giving yourself to a cause greater than yourself. I’m an advocate for being your best self and living your best life. Volunteering has given me an opportunity to help others realize that there’s hope, because there are people that care.

Why do you believe volunteerism is important for our community?
I believe volunteerism is important for our community because too often there aren’t enough people who are willing to reach back into communities and help others. No one can anticipate the curve balls that life throws at us. Sometimes it only takes one person giving back to make a difference or to change a life or to give someone hope. I have always felt that if I can help just one person through something I do, then it was worth it.

You spoke to the Retail and Customer Service Program students - tell us about that experience.
Speaking to the Retail and Customer Service students was awesome! I was on cloud nine after my talk with them. I always enjoy being able to help people understand that you don’t have to be a victim of circumstance – at any point you can choose to change your situation. That doesn’t mean it will be easy, but nothing really worth having ever is. By being in the program, these students have already made an important choice that will positively impact them. I couldn’t be happier to have been a part of their experience.

What is the greatest benefit of volunteering to you personally?
The greatest benefit to me personally is the personal joy I get from helping others. I also believe that you get what you give.

What inspired you to join Goodwill’s Board of Directors and engage in the organization as a volunteer?
In my role at Nordstrom, one of my responsibilities is working with the community. I always want to partner with organizations that have causes that I’m passionate about. I believe in Goodwill’s mission to improve the quality of life for individuals by eliminating barriers and helping people in need reach their full potential. Being able to support that mission is what I enjoy most about being a Seattle Goodwill board member.

Looking for ways to impact your community through volunteering? Visit our volunteer page or contact me, Ingrid Lewison at to learn about current volunteer opportunities.


Ingrid Lewison is the Volunteer Resource Coordinator at Seattle Goodwill, which means she gets to spend her days working with Goodwill’s awesome volunteers and the Development team to strengthen community partnerships. She lives in Ballard with her husband, Chewy (woof!) and Napkins (meow!), and spends her free time seeing live music as much as possible.

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