Updated: Jan 23
My friend Nate had an idea to host an event to bring his online community together in person to connect, collaborate, and gather food donations for Northwest Harvest, a hunger relief agency in Kent, WA.
Nate casually proposed his idea to myself and a mutual friend Jon. It was new territory for him he treaded lightly at first but Jon and I supported and encouraged his idea, seeing it as a great way to get our collective online communities together and give to those in need.
Nate put himself out there on his Instagram, asking if anyone would be interested if he were to plan a give-back hike in Snoqualmie, WA. Jon and I also posted on our Instagram accounts to encourage our friends to join, we wanted to bring each of our communities together to build a diverse group of people who share a love of the outdoors and place value in community service.
One person became three.
Three became a handful.
A handful became a small group.
The event was later named "Hike n Hops" because the plan was to get together to hike and then meet at Jon's house in North Bend to drop off the food donations and enjoy some snacks & brews in celebration of an awesome day.
Introductions in the parking lot were an eye opener. Each person introduced themselves to at least one if not a handful of others, that's when I realized that this type of thing was a first for many.
We were a group of strangers and acquaintances who came together to enjoy an activity and support a cause greater than ourselves, it was epic.
Singles, couples, families and children, we were of many sizes and physical abilities. Each of us made our way up the trail at our own pace, sometimes with one person, other times with another.
I ran back and forth between groups, hanging out and snapping photos while we made our way up. While I moved between groups I noticed and appreciated the many connections that were being made as the group members moved forward with some or stayed back with others.
When everyone reached the summit we sat together and enjoyed the stunning view. The weather had rain in the forecast but we were gifted with a partly cloudy sky with cracks of gleaming sun rays. I've been up there many times but never have I seen such beautiful light coming down into the valley. It made the experience surreal.
Our final hours together were spent at Jon's house snacking on grilled cheese, drinking beer, and sharing our adventure stories around the table. We were a bunch of strangers with the willingness to make an impact, that's what made it all worthwhile.
When we come together, we can make a difference.
We all face new situations with new people. We all have our struggles and doubts and feelings of inadequacy, believing that our individual effort won't make a difference in the grand scheme of things.
I'm here to tell you that when we come together, we can make a difference.
It starts with an idea and the willingness to let it grow.
Special thanks to Nate Papa for having an idea that bloomed into something special.
Shout out to Jon & Helen for sharing their home & delicious snacks
And thank you everyone who helped make this vision a reality!
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If you have extra food after prepping your meals or if have left overs please consider donating to a local food shelter. No matter how small, your effort will make a difference in someone's life.
Group Photo by Nate Papa