When Martin (Marty) Thompson took early retirement from his position in corporate finance at Puget Sound Energy, he went back to school, earning an MBA at Seattle University, but never returned to paid work. Instead, he has found his calling in volunteering.
Through RSVP, he works with Circle of Friends for Mental Health at Sound Mental Health in Seattle, where he uses his knowledge to teach skills in the use of computers to enhance the lives of the people there. Circle of Friends provides a way for those with mental illness to express themselves through art, music, writing, photography, computers and drama in an encouraging and supportive environment.
When asked about his involvement in so many areas, Marty replied, “I just like to keep busy helping others.” And indeed he does!
In addition to Circle of Friends he volunteers at the Hearthstone Retirement Center near Greenlake, at Hilltop House Retirement Home, Plymouth Housing Group. And during tax season, he volunteers to do taxes for low-income people through the United Way Tax Preparation program.
“I guess I spend about 25 hours a week volunteering,” he modestly declares. He encourages others to get involved volunteering with those impacted by low incomes, homelessness or mental illness.
In 2012, Marty was honored with the Governor’s Award of Excellence for Outstanding Volunteer Service. In her address to the honorees, Governor Christine Gregoire stated, “Volunteers are the deep muscle of our state. Without you, our communities would not function nearly as well. … You are part of the giving spirit that makes Washington special.” Those who work with Marty would agree that he is indeed someone special.
Not one to rest on his laurels, Marty continued on with his volunteering and soon found himself being celebrated again after Carolyn Hale, Director of Circle of Friends, nominated him for RSVP’s Outstanding Volunteer of the Year for 2013.
In her nomination, Carolyn noted that Marty “is looked for, asked about, and wanted by most of our clients at Emerald House. His smile and warmth flow every day, and he keeps track of the many requests for his time, skills and needed expertise. He is a blessing for those whose paths he shares.”
He was born in New York, but following the death of his father in World War II, he moved with his mother to the state of Washington before he was one year old.
After graduating from high school in Yakima he “couldn’t wait to get out of that small town” and headed straight to Seattle. But after working for Boeing for a couple of years, he realized that he wanted more out of life and made his way back east over the mountains to pursue an undergraduate degree from Washington State University in Business Administration.
Later, after completing his degree, he moved back to Seattle permanently to begin work with Puget Sound Energy, where he was employed until his retirement 15 years ago.
Marty’s four children are a source of great joy and happiness. He maintains close contact with all of them, interacting via Skype with his daughter in Spokane on a weekly basis, discussing the plots of TV programs they both faithfully watch while also staying in touch with his son and two grandchildren who also live in Spokane.
His other son and daughter live in Seattle, and he feels fortunate to be able to see them regularly. Marty and his Seattle-based daughter share a love of football, and both are great Seahawks fans – so you can guess what they are doing when game days roll around.
When not volunteering or spending quality time with family and friends, Marty still finds ways to keep busy. If not enjoying himself kayaking out on Lake Union, Lake Washington, or somewhere in the Puget Sound, you might find him biking along the streets and bike paths of Seattle and its environs. Then again, he may be off hiking or even snowshoeing, especially at one of his favorite places, Artist Point near Mt Baker.
Marty is a man of many talents and interests who knows how to give of himself to help others, and live life to the fullest. He is an inspirational example of a well-rounded life, and for that we salute you, Marty Thompson.