A pastime of service

When they’re not at work, many people like to go out, entertain themselves, or just relax.

Not Alycia Hawkins.

“Volunteering is my hobby,” Hawkins, 33, said. “That’s what I do for fun.”

She serves on the Lydia Place board, as the philanthropy chair for WYPS, and at her job, is a committee member at Team WECU, which organizes volunteer opportunities for WECU employees.

She has brought her volunteer work into her own home. She started as a volunteer at Skookum Kids, a Bellingham nonprofit which helps take care of foster kids and support and train new foster parents.

She started volunteering at Skookum House, where kids can stay while waiting to be matched with the best possible foster parents.

“We literally just love on those kids and try and make it as easy of a transition [as we can],” she said.

Then she made the leap to become a foster parent herself. Because of her busy work schedule, she is available on weekends, taking in kids as a respite for their regular foster parents.

“Obviously it’s not easy,” she said. “But I think it’s important that we provide strong role models for these kids for them to look up to.”

In addition to her outside volunteer work, she tries to help people at her day job as well. She works as a human resources generalist at WECU. Early in her career, she thought she might try pursuing a business degree.

“I have always had a business mind,” she said. “Until I ran into accounting and failed miserably and decided maybe business wasn’t for me.”

Still, she was fascinated with businesses and how they operate.

When she was studying at Syracuse University in New York, she got a work-study job in the university’s human resources department.

“I liked that it was a different way that I could help people, while also being strategic in that business mind,” she said.

After college, she went into nonprofits.

Hawkins was working at a nonprofit in Seattle, and looking for a career change.

“I was really in a spot in life where I didn’t really know where I wanted to be or what I wanted to do,” she said.

Then she got the chance to move back to her hometown of Bellingham to manage Charter College’s Bellingham campus. When that campus shut down, she started at WECU — or rather, she came back to WECU. She had worked at the credit union previously, as an intern right out of high school.

“I was really excited to rejoin the team and get back to my roots,” she said.

She first started volunteering when she moved back to Bellingham.

“Something I wanted to do was to dive into the community and help wherever I could,” she said.

She started at WYPS while working at Charter College, and has stayed active.

“What I love most about Whatcom Young Professionals is it’s not a referral networking group. It’s a social networking group,” she said.

“I think that’s how our generation knows how to succeed, is by helping each other.”

This is part of the BBJ’s coverage of our annual Top 7 Under 40 Awards. Click here to learn more about the rest of the winners.

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