By Elizabeth White-Olsen, Executive Director of Writespace
I want to take a moment to tell you about a volunteer I love dearly. Her name is Leslie Archibald. She serves as Writespace’s volunteer coordinator; her picture is below. Leslie has been volunteering with Writespace for two and a half years, or for more than half of Writespace’s existence (in May, Writespace turns four).
When she first came to Writespace, writing was a mere dream for Leslie. But throughout her time volunteering with us and attending our events, her writing practice has blossomed. In 2017 she won Spider Road Press' Spider's Web Flash Fiction Prize. Furthermore, she's now midway through the draft of her first novel. Furthermore, she’s now midway through the draft of her first novel. We are proud of all that Leslie has accomplished on the writing front, and at the same time, not surprised, because we have seen the same level of commitment in her work as Writespace’s volunteer coordinator.
Some of you may have seen Leslie at workshops. Seen her, but perhaps not heard her, because Leslie tends to quietly observe, rather than dance in the limelight. Behind the calm, quiet exterior, though, Leslie is a total powerhouse. After big events, such as Writefest, our staff and volunteers tend to feel as dead as the squished squirrel your tires roll past on the street. We have been working nonstop for weeks to make things happen. We’ve missed sleep, tender moments with family, and gobs of reading and writing time to be able to pull off the event. Regardless of these generous sacrifices, when we’ve all surpassed the point of exhaustion and most of our wonderful volunteers have listened to the voice of reason and headed home to sanity, Leslie will be the one to stick around in the dead zone and help me carry out the trash, break down boxes for recycling, and sweep the floors.
Leslie is quietly and powerfully always here at Writespace, smiling and ready to do whatever we need, no matter how dull or dirty the task. She is a warrior for the good and utterly fearless in her ability to say yes to tasks, even those she might not otherwise choose to do, such as picking up pizza for our volunteers when she’s trying to make healthier eating choices; emailing a volunteer who didn’t show up to help, as promised; or leading a volunteer team meeting that challenges her natural shyness. What is most remarkable about Leslie's dedication is the grace, kindness, and humility which which she performs these tasks. She is all smiles and totally willing, without even a shadow of resentment. I don’t know what makes Leslie so sweet, so good, so full of love for writers and Writespace’s mission, but to me, she embodies the very essence of what our endeavor is about.
Thank you, Leslie, for all that you do. When I feel tired, you remind me of the good.