When Gavin Watt officially became Fishline’s Volunteer Manager on August 1, many Fishline insiders were surprised. Gavin has been doing this job since the first of this year, but most didn’t know that he was doing so as a volunteer. When he stepped down from his role on the Fishline Board in July, he was able to become part of the paid staff, which we are happy about as he has been working so hard in service to Fishline.
Gavin is a self-effacing man, so you don’t hear much about the rich and interesting history that is his story. He was born in Michigan, the oldest of 8 children, living “a pretty normal childhood”. He joined the Navy when he was 18, moved to San Francisco and went into the Merchant Marine, ultimately serving in Vietnam. When he returned and went to school, he worked on ships during the summers to raise money for his tuition. He learned skills during this time that would launch him into the career that would come next.
Before he graduated, he married Laurel and had a family – 2 daughters – working odd jobs mostly in power plants. When the family moved to Canada (“Dad’s Canadian”), he dabbled in a hobby that he had once thought would be his career, photography. But it’s hard to make a living taking pictures, so he continued working in power plants in the area. They moved back to the states, onto Vashon Island, where he started a business in construction testing air and water flows. After 7 years as his own boss, he was invited to take on a job in the same field in California. He eventually retired and moved back to the Northwest.
As often happens with youthful, curious people, retirement wasn’t dormant for Gavin. He started doing his photography again and looked for volunteer work. He heard about Fishline, which he originally thought was “providing food for retired fishermen”. He started as a receptionist, where he worked capably for 3 years, then took on the volunteer role of Program Manager for Food for Thought. When the opening for Volunteer Manager came up, he graciously agreed to take it on. Aside from the confusion coming from an office that has a Gavin and a Garvin, he was able to get going right away and brought order and calm to what can be a very busy workplace.
This job can have its challenges. Keeping a hopping food bank and thrift store staffed with trained volunteers can have its ups and downs. “The hardest part is getting enough steady volunteers to keep up with our growth. ” But the ups are wonderfully energizing. “I love the people, the volunteers, the students we have working with us, our clients. It’s a great group of people to work with.”
You can contact Gavin at [email protected] with any questions or interest in becoming a NK Fishline volunteer. We’d love to have you!