View from a recliner
John Vella has been a punk at WCA for six years, and previously worked on an organic farm in Washington and was a Teachers Assistant in a grade school. His other experience in a Co-op was at People’s Food Cooperative in Portland. He started as a volunteer cashier, and worked up as staff, did Human Resources and eventually became the General Manager. In this position, he realized not only the value of volunteers, but the need to keep volunteers included in the process and have meaningful level of participation.
In addition to his acupuncture career, John volunteered at the inception of POCA, working on the original Steering Committee to help design the structure of the co-op. He currently works on the Membership Circle and General Circle. He finds working collectively reflects his values and to be very fulfilling, as opposed to working in a top-down, profit-centered environment.
John feels POCA needs volunteers who are willing to bring in their visions. POCA is open to influence regarding what can be done or prioritized. Being a volunteer run organization, everyone involved is self motivated to pursue the larger political and social vision of a value system that focuses on people and community over profit. POCA could use more people getting involved to bring up projects, develop them, and carry them though. Since POCA is almost all volunteer run, volunteers are in a good position to bring their agendas to the group and get supported in their interests, visions and goals.
For John, at the heart of being a punk is his relationship with the patients. They are his primary teachers and provide the daily fuel that inspires him to support POCA with volunteer time. And in turn, working for POCA brings a larger contextual meaning to his day to day work by being a part of an evolving community with a long term shared vision.