A letter from the Companis Board of Directors:

Inherent in its creation, history and present strategic plan, is the intention of Companis to support and promote diversity, work for equity, and to model inclusiveness – to counteract the effects of oppression. As we move forward to reassess what this means for us today, let us continue to acknowledge that oppression happens at all levels, reinforced by societal norms, institutional biases, interpersonal interactions, and individual beliefs. Companis seeks to acknowledge our journey and to be challenged by our continued desire to engage in the work of diversity, equity, and inclusion.

Diversity and inclusion in Companis – from the Board of Directors, to staff, to Workers, to agencies served, as well as the people and neighborhoods being served by those agencies – enrich the ideas and perspectives that we use in formulating our work and the breadth of work we are able to accomplish. Diversity and inclusion ensure that multiple viewpoints are considered in decisions about priorities, the relationships that we establish, and the communities we affect. Equity as an organizational goal indicates that our aspiration is to broaden our understanding of and impact on the underserved population in Seattle, not only in an unbiased manner, but in ways that bring healing and wholeness to the community.

Companis is born out of the stated need to bring sustainable assistance to our neighbors excluded from basic services and healthy community. From our inception, our mission has been to serve those who have been marginalized and intentionally excluded in our community. At the onset those identified neighbors were the LGBT community, particularly those affected by the AIDS crisis, and refugees from violence in Central America. As time and circumstances have changed, those neighbors have come to include the homeless, those facing barriers to health and mental health services, people in recovery, immigrants and refugees from around the world, the LGBTQ community, people of color, and those targeted because of faith identification.
When a collective group of people decides to marginalize such communities, those communities are usually also under-represented and even negatively represented in our legal system, educational system, the media, public policy, and hiring practices. To that end we have advocated for our underrepresented neighbors to receive a voice and attention in these areas by working for change in policy and law, and working to increase opportunities.

The second piece of our stated mission is to foster the skills of volunteers with a deep desire to serve their neighbors. The Companis model pairs sophisticated matchmaking with volunteer support rooted in reflection practices and community building. Our priority is relationships: matching, building, sustaining, and nurturing relationships between our workers and partner agencies and among and between workers.

Companis has historically attracted volunteers who are committed to social justice to be paired with agencies involved in social justice. In our work of support and reflection, our Worker support program has been at the forefront of dealing with issues of race, diversity and inclusion – both on an institutional and personal level. Workers and staff have had – and will continue to have – some difficult conversations around language, assumptions and values. We have identified goals, and as those are met, new goals will come forward. We are open to discussing items specific to our goals upon request.

Thank you for being on this journey with us.

In community,

Sarah Speck, MD


The Companis Board of Directors