My path to Public Allies

21 Nov

Welcome to my Public Ally Snapshots Blog! While writing my first blog post, it has been very helpful to look at my path to Public Allies as a series of snapshots in life. In the interest of curtailing the length and tedium of my life story, I’ve selected three snapshots of my path to where I am now.

Snapshot #1: Age 6 (nickname: Philster)
My parents have always been very involved in their community. When I was six, my dad organized an environmental project in my home town of Issaquah, Washington. He planned this project from start to finish and it was a great success! So when somebody else took credit for my dad’s project on the evening news, my six year-old self was about to burst with anger. Even more shocking to the self-absorbed psyche of a six year-old was the indifferent reaction of my father. When I asked him what he was going to do about the injustice, he said something like, “It doesn’t matter who took credit. What’s important is that the project was a success.”

It was an important lesson and, even now, I often think about how to best balance selfishness and selflessness in my life.

Snapshot #2: Age 16 (nickname: Phildogg)
Just about every Wednesday as a 16 year-old, I would catch a ride out to Seattle to volunteer with some of my Key Club friends. We volunteered with an organization that served a hot meal to homeless people and provided cell phones once a week for their clients to call friends or family. The organization’s goal was to find a safe, temporary home for Seattle’s homeless and help pay for transportation to wherever that place was.

Leaving my suburban bubble each week for such a contrasting environment gave me a perspective and passion that I may not have otherwise gained. I began to see volunteering as more personally rewarding than just about anything. Unfortunately, it took me a few college majors too long to figure out that this discovery dictated my passions in school and career choice as well.

Snapshot #3: Age 22 (nickname: Philliam)
I decided to take some time off school, so I applied for AmeriCorps positions all over the country. Soon, I was flying one-way to Hartford with my life in two suitcases and without any keys in my pocket (by the way, as someone who pats their right pant pocket every hour or so to make sure his keys are still there, having no keys at all was quite discomforting). As the year went by and I met one Public Ally after another, I realized that was the gig to get.

So here I am!

Philip Drew – Hartford, CT


5 Responses to “My path to Public Allies”

  1. Kaleena November 22, 2011 at 5:04 pm #


    I love how you supply a nickname with each snapshot. Also, your father must be a very humble man to be so even keeled about someone else taking credit for his work. He is right though, it shouldn’t matter who did the work, the point is that people were able to be helped and hopefully have better lives because of it. I would be curious to see who you would name as the biggest influences of your life. I bet your dad would be on that list.

  2. philwdrew November 23, 2011 at 11:34 am #

    Thanks for your comment! He is definitely a big influence along with many other family members, some of whom I’m sure will come up in future posts. There’s so many great people in my Public Allies family too!

  3. JennyCSweat November 23, 2011 at 12:39 pm #

    Hey Fellow Hartford Ally,

    I just wanted to share with you that when I was 13 I started a Key Club at my high school. Reflection on that experience led me to back to those service roots when I left the culinary industry, “So here I am”. Thank you for sharing 🙂

  4. imdelgado December 1, 2011 at 2:54 pm #

    In a culture that perpetuates selfishness, such a selfless act as your father’s is truly admirable. And for his son to be able to learn from it is even better!

  5. Dara December 3, 2011 at 11:47 am #

    “I often think about how to best balance selfishness and selflessness in my life.”

    Keep me updated on how that goes, I think about that same thing a lot, especially in our line of work. Great post!

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