If you’re involved with a service organization in Puyallup, there’s a good chance that you’ve met Karissa Thompson.
Thompson, 40, has a busy life — but she always manages to find time to volunteer in the community.
“People always ask me, how do you have time for this? You’re a full-time mom, you have a full-time job, you have this, you have that, and I’m just like — I don’t find time for this. It’s a lifestyle. This is just my lifestyle. I was called to do these things, so I prioritize them in my life,” said Thompson, a Puyallup resident.
People always ask me, how do you have time for this? You’re a full-time mom, you have a full-time job, you have this, you have that, and I’m just like — I don’t find time for this. It’s a lifestyle. This is just my lifestyle. I was called to do these things, so I prioritize them in my life.
By day, Thompson works at Red Canoe Credit Union in business development and community outreach, having started there two years ago after working 20 years in the banking industry. At her job, she gets to do what she loves: connect with her community. Partnering with school districts, retirement home and businesses, she travels the area to teach emotional development, diverse personality and financial literacy training.
But outside of work, Thompson continues her outreach with the community.
For the past eight years, Thompson’s been an ambassador with the Puyallup/Sumner Chamber of Commerce. She works with Puyallup Rotary, South Hill Rotary, Communities in Schools, the YMCA Youth Investment Center and is on the advisory committee for the YMCA. Every week, she reads to a student at Woodland Elementary.
When she was president of Puyallup Rotary from 2015 to 2016, Thompson launched the Youth Advocacy Project, also known as YAP, which helps supply the Puyallup School District with volunteer needs — even if it’s just directing traffic in the morning.
“The main mission is to go in and be a resource connection for the schools, students and parents in the community,” Thompson said. “It’s a good way for the students, teachers and parents to go to one place and find the resources that are out there. It’s basically a way to create a connection point.”
To some, Thompson’s volunteer work has a theme.
“The one that is closest to her heart is working with kids,” said Shelly Schlumpf, CEO and president of the Puyallup/Sumner Chamber of Commerce. “Karissa is one of the most connected members in our chamber and in the community. She’s an expert at networking and relationships.”
Karissa is one of the most connected members in our chamber and in the community. She’s an expert at networking and relationships.
Shelly Schlumpf, CEO and president of the Puyallup/Sumner Chamber of Commerce
Thompson was selected as the 2017 Rising Star Award Volunteer of the Year by the Puyallup/Sumner Chamber of Commerce at the 2018 Economic Forecast breakfast this month.
But the recognition isn’t why she spends her time helping others.
“You also learn from these people and their situations and their stories — things you would never know,” Thompson said. “I get so much more out of this than the people who receive the information that I give.”
By volunteering with the young adult community, Thompson hopes to be a pioneer for the younger generation. It’s why she brings her 11-year-old and 13-year-old kids to volunteer events at the Meeker Days festival and the Puyallup Food Bank.
“I think it’s so important to get young adults into volunteering so that they can learn skills,” Thompson said. “A lot of times people want to serve, they want to volunteer, but they don’t know what’s out there. I’ve made it my mission to know what’s out there.”
A Puyallup resident since she was a ninth grader, Thompson graduated from Walker High School in the Puyallup School District. She plans to continue her work with the community, because she wouldn’t be herself if she didn’t.
“I have a calling in my heart,” she said. “There’s something in me that says go and do this and you’ll continue to be fulfilled. And I just listen to it.”