Volunteer Spotlight: Tanna’s Career Journey

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Feb. 24, 2022

By Sam Buisman – Covenant House Alaska Staff Writer

Covenant House Alaska is an organization designed to uplift everyone under its roof. This is why many members of our team, like Tanna Lee, have risen from volunteering to working at Covey through our career opportunities. 

After volunteering to give back to a nonprofit that once came to her aid, Tanna decided to transition into full-time employment at Covenant House Alaska as an overnight staff member at Rights of Passage. Her work throughout her time at Covey has impacted our youth and staff alike, and we couldn’t be happier that she has decided to come aboard. 

Tanna said that after her volunteer experience awoke a passion within her, she had to make it a bigger part of her life. 

“I remember telling myself ‘Hey, you’ve been here for two hours going on three hours, it’s time to go home, this is just volunteer work, not your job,’” said Tanna. “So, I found myself wanting it to be my job!”

Our pursuit of ending the experience of youth homelessness in Alaska is emboldened by Tanna’s relentless engagement with our mission, and that of all of our volunteers as well. 

Coming back to Covenant House Alaska

Covenant House Alaska held a special place in Tanna’s heart, as she accessed its services for a time during her teen years. 

“When I had no friends, when I had no guidance, when I felt lost, I felt like Covenant House was part of my adolescent years that helped me out,” said Tanna. 

Now as an adult, Tanna said that she was looking for a way to give back to an organization and a community that helped set her up for a successful future. So, she decided to volunteer with our Maintenance Team and bring her cleaning experience and knowledge imparted by her “neat-freak” dad to Covenant House Alaska.

No job was too tough for Tanna. With the team, she took on cluttered gym closets, hallways of faded paint, mud tracked into entryway floors — and even dirty toilets. 

“I know it’s considered a dirty job to a lot of people, like ‘Ew, a toilet, ugh!’” said Tanna. “But I didn’t want the youth or the workers to have to come to a facility with dust and grime. I just wanted everyone to experience a clean facility.” 

Tanna took pride in doing work that anyone in our space could appreciate with a simple glance. 

“I wanted there to be a before and after,” said Tanna. “I wanted someone to walk into the Navigation Center or the gym and go ‘Oh wow, this looks really good.’ I just wanted that wow factor, kinda like magic.” 

Volunteer to career

As Tanna kept coming in to volunteer, she couldn’t shake the feeling that she wanted to make Covenant House Alaska a bigger part of her life.

“I just found myself wanting to be a part of it,” said Tanna. “The more I volunteered, the more I kept telling myself, ‘Man, I wish I could do more!’” 

So, Tanna decided to pursue a career at Covenant House Alaska. She applied for an opening with our Relief Staff, a choice she said required courage. 

“I wanted to take that leap of faith,” said Tanna. “I wanted to let go of every doubt I had.”

Tanna of course got the position and quickly proved herself to be an essential part of the team through her trademark industriousness. Very quickly, she moved from a part-time relief staffer up to her current position as overnight staff at our Rights of Passage facility. 

Loving, learning and working at Covenant House Alaska

Now as an employee, Tanna says that she finds her job to be a fulfilling way to serve her community, make genuine connections with young and ambitious Alaskans, and grow as a person herself. 

Tanna said that she often draws from her own history with Covenant House Alaska to help guide her in her work, which she says encourages pointed self-reflection. 

“I’ve learned to embrace my experience and embrace the experience of learning things as I go,” said Tanna.

According to Tanna, one of the most rewarding facets of her position is being able to interact with and learn from the young people Covenant House Alaska serves.

“They’re smarter than I was at their age,” said Tanna, “and I thought I was all that and a bag of chips!”

Without Tanna and our large cohort of volunteers-turned-staff-members, Covenant House Alaska would not have anywhere near the capacity to serve Anchorage in the way we do. We are far beyond thankful for Tanna and the contributions of all of our volunteers and staff to our shared mission of ending the experience of youth homelessness. 

Join our team!

Covenant House Alaska is always on the lookout for compassionate, driven individuals to join up with us, either as a volunteer or member of our staff.

For those on the fence about getting involved, Tanna said that they ought to trust whatever notion is pushing them towards serving our community’s youth. 

“If you’re already thinking about it, that means your heart’s in the right place,” said Tanna. “If your head is not, just go for it!”

Covenant House Alaska is recruiting candidates for both direct care and administrative positions. To browse our job openings, click here.

If you would like more information about volunteering at Covenant House Alaska, visit the Volunteer page on our website here

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