July 11, 2022
By Sam Buisman, Covenant House Alaska Staff Writer
It’s well known that seven is a lucky number, and we at Covenant House Alaska feel both lucky and humbled to have had Andrew Dahlin as a volunteer for the past seven years!
As a volunteer for five years and a mentor for the past two, Andrew has given uplifting guidance to our youth and outstanding support to our staff. His compassion for our young people is only matched by his dedication to them and their journey towards an independent future.
From his time at Covenant House Alaska, Andrew says that he has learned how powerful being a small but steady presence in someone else’s life can be.
“I think the thing that really makes the biggest difference is just being present and showing up,” said Andrew. “People see that, and I think that makes a surprisingly big difference for a lot of people.”
All of us at Covenant House Alaska are so thankful for the amazing gifts of time and talent Andrew has given to us. The work that he and our other volunteers do sends a message of love and support to our young people, and we are forever indebted to them for it.
From Cali to Covey
Originally from sunny, southern California, Andrew moved to Alaska a decade ago for work, eventually landing at McKinley Capital Management. A world away from home, Andrew felt called to find a way to connect with his new community through volunteering.
After finding out about Covenant House Alaska online, Andrew said he was impressed by how the organization balances providing care for our youth without constraining their autonomy.
“It’s a really great program to advocate for the youth and let them be their own person and become the best person they can be,” said Andrew.”
One email exchange later, Andrew launched an impressive five-year volunteer career in the kitchen and classroom at Covenant House Alaska. He spent his time washing dishes and prepping meals with our culinary crew or tutoring our youth in math.
Additionally, Andrew even found time to do some one-off carpentry projects for Covenant House Alaska, including building the gorgeous cornhole set that gets almost daily use from our youth in the summer!
Becoming a mentor
After an already astounding five years of service at Covey, Andrew decided to get further involved with our mission by becoming a mentor.
For the past two years, Andrew has built a supportive and trusting relationship with a young person in our Rights of Passage program to help guide them through the throes of early adulthood.
“The opportunity to go and talk to the youth who are still getting oriented to the world and figuring out who they are — it’s kinda cool to share the hard lessons you’ve learned so they can get the benefit of that moving forward,” said Andrew.
Throughout their time together, Andrew and his mentee have had outings big and small, from ax throwing and escape rooms to meaningful chats about the future.
“Sometimes I’d just drop by [Covey] and get to chat with people and talk about life or whatever’s going on,” said Andrew.
Furthermore, Andrew said that his mentorship experience has encouraged some healthy reflection and personal growth.
“It’s a good challenge for myself as well,” said Andrew. “It gives you some perspective on your own life, looking back at where you were at their age and the struggles that you had.”
Presence and community
According to Andrew, he’s been able to find the connection to Anchorage that he was looking for through mentoring and volunteering at Covenant House Alaska.
“When you volunteer, you get involved in the community in a meaningful way that you can actually see people and just be present in their lives and vice versa,” said Andrew. “It’s very grounding.”
Andrew says that this experience has taught him how simply being present in someone’s life can make a world of difference to that person as they work towards a better future.
“It’s more like tending a garden than building something,” said Andrew. “You provide the environment for them to do well in, and they do the stuff themselves.”
Volunteers like Andrew are the rocket fuel that propels Covenant House Alaska to new heights of care. Our arms are always open for new volunteers to join our team!
Andrew urges those thinking about volunteering at Covenant House Alaska to take the plunge and jump in.
“Just show up! The first step is always the hardest, right?” said Andrew. “I think you’ll like it, and you’ll keep coming back.”
If you would like more information about volunteering at Covenant House Alaska, visit the Volunteer page on our website here or email Volunteer Coordinator Holly Payne at firstname.lastname@example.org.