Volunteer Highlight: KrisAnne Meyer

hallie kopaldAll, Volunteer Highlights

Whether it’s climbing volcanoes in Mexico City or building a school for orphans with AIDS in Tanzania, there are two core themes that are important to NWMC volunteer KrisAnne Meyer: adventure and volunteerism.

Originally from Bayfield Wisconsin, KrisAnne grew up racing sailboats with her family on Lake Superior every weekend. Having moved ten times before she was a senior in high school, she always stayed close to the water and ended up graduating from Curtis High School in Tacoma. Throughout these transitions, KrisAnne’s family remained active: her mother was a ski instructor; her brother a mountain guide at Mt. Rainier; and she grew up climbing, skiing and sailing. In addition to all that, there was that time she was “bombardiering” avalanches in Park City, Utah as a self-described ski bum.

When KrisAnne was 19, two important events had a big impact on her life. Her mother, Sally Jean, passed away and she was hired as a stewardess (!) which offered her a lot of flexibility and complimented the lifestyle she was after. To honor her mother’s lifelong commitment to volunteering, KrisAnne sought out opportunities to do the same. Fifteen years ago, she wrote a letter of intention to an organization called Smile Network, a humanitarian organization that provides life-altering reconstructive surgeries and related healthcare services to impoverished children and adults in developing nations. To offset the costs of their galas, the founder of the organization made adventure-driven KrisAnne a proposition: organize, facilitate, and guide adventure treks in Machu Picchu, Sacred Valley Wall, and the El Camino de Santiago—as a volunteer position! Fifteen years later, over $1 million dollars has been raised.

KrisAnne has been a flight attendant for 42 years, weathering five mergers, and is currently with Delta Airlines.

A few years ago, foot surgery made KrisAnne reflect on the next chapter in her life. She had raised three children and found herself free of the everyday commitment of motherhood. She sold everything in Minnesota, bought an Airstream trailer and took to the road to volunteer. Traveling through National Parks, she volunteered along the way as a camp host. When she read about a position in Point Hudson, she seized the opportunity.

When KrisAnne took her airstream, Sally Jean—named after her mother—down the hill into Port Townsend, she saw all the masts across the bay and knew she was home. Welcoming newcomers to the RV sites and boat slips is a good fit for KrisAnne’s personality, and of course, the view isn’t bad either.

Across from Pt. Hudson, she saw the NWMC, walked in on her second day in town and immediately signed up to volunteer. A bartending position would be open at the annual Shipwright’s Regatta; that day she completed her MAST License training to ready herself up for the role—now THAT is commitment! Since that time, she has brought her skills, good nature, and enthusiasm for life to her roles at She Tells Sea Tales, Salty Cinema, SEVENTY48, R2AK and the Wooden Boat Festival.

“People are very supportive around here. The women especially embrace and build each other up…the NWMC is a glue for this town. It’s very important for the community. Your vibe creates your tribe!”

Adventure is of course knockin’ on her door again, and this time she will be taking Sally Jean up to Alaska.

It is no wonder the NWMC connects to KrisAnne’s spirit when she spoke of her brother waking her up at 3 am on her sixteenth birthday and said, “Come on! We’re gonna’ climb Mt. Rainier…every day is a holiday, every meal is a feast, there is always time for an adventure, and today is your adventure.”

As KrisAnne says, “Doubt will kill any dreams more than fear. Maybe it won’t work out. But, just maybe, seeing if it does will be the best adventure ever.”

Follow Kris Anne’s adventures with Sally Jean @sallyjeantheairstream
Smile Network: www.smilenetwork.org