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Time After Time: Kim Farmer's Story

Thursday July 14, 2016

Kim Farmer And FamKim Farmer didn’t have the time. That’s the only thing she knew for certain when the director of advertising sales for Microsoft’s Bing division fired off an email as the 2015 calendar year wound to a close. With a busy work schedule, a family that included two young children and all the other demands of life, Farmer had pretty much everything she wanted … except for time.

But that didn’t stop her from emailing the Northwest Parkinson’s Foundation, offering the one thing she did not have. Time.

For all the things Farmer had going for her, she still felt a twinge short of fulfillment. If she was going to be true to herself and to what she hoped her children to be, she was going to give more of her time to a cause she believed in.

“It’s always been something that’s important to me, and I haven’t really lived it,” said Farmer, who volunteered some of her time to an NWPF dinner gala as well as a breakfast last year but was ready to take on something bigger. “I’ve donated to charities in the past, but I haven’t been as involved as I want to be. If I want that to be a tenant to my family and how my kids grow up, I need to find the time; I need to make the time.”

 

Thumbnail Kim FarmerHaving emailed the NWPF in search of a slightly bigger role, Farmer soon was named the chairperson of the annual Team Parkinson’s Walk Seattle. She’s spent the past six-plus months bringing together fellow volunteers and helping to plan the July 30 event, finding the time she never thought she had.

“It’s something I always wanted to do but never felt like I had time to do,” she said of volunteering over an extended period of time. “Once I proved to myself that I could make the time and that it was really important to me, that’s when I really hit my stride.”

The first step, as Farmer knew from her eight years at Microsoft, was to surround herself with qualified people she trusted. Farmer knew from her limited experience with NWPF that the organization would have all the important areas covered, but she also knew she needed more bodies to help move things along. She started asking around at Microsoft, and five of the first 10 co-workers to which she reached out gave enthusiastic responses. Volunteering, she was beginning to realize, was something that was important to a lot of people.

Chairing the committee took time and dedication, but Farmer came to find out that she genuinely enjoyed the work. An hour or two a night after putting her kids to bed was not only doable but also pretty rewarding.

“The funny thing is, it’s fun work,” she said. “It’s not tedious. The kids go to sleep, and I fire up my laptop.”

Farmer knew very little about Parkinson’s before her co-worker, Matthew Lydon, was diagnosed a year or two ago. That sparked a curiosity in the disease and eventually led to Farmer joining Lydon in volunteering at a dinner gala. That experience really opened her eyes to Parkinson’s.

“I got to watch the people speak, and there were so many interesting stories of families going through the diagnosis, and how Northwest Parkinson’s helped them through it,” she recalled. “It’s hard to not be touched by that.”

Discussing Lydon’s experience with the NWPF added to Farmer’s desire to help in a bigger way. She didn’t know how she could make more a difference, but Farmer’s interest in volunteering and her new fascination with Parkinson’s led her to write an email.

I’m available, it read, and I want to help.

“When I sent the email, I had no idea what I was getting into,” Farmer said a few months later.

Kim Farmer And KidsShe soon found herself sitting in a coffee shop, talking to an NWPF employee who brought up the idea of Farmer chairing a committee.

“I was like, ‘What does that even mean?’” she recalled. “I literally had no idea what I was even signing up for.

“… There’s always this slight moment of panic whenever you’re giving up a part of yourself, whether it’s time or money, when you’re saying: ‘Oh, God, do I really want to do this?’ But sometimes you just have to make that jump.”

Farmer made the jump, and she’s never regretted it.

“You’d be shocked how you can make time for an hour or two a week if it’s something you’re very passionate about,” she said. “I think about hour or two watching Netflix on Saturday afternoon; there’s so much time that we fill with things that we don’t need. Something like this, the thing we get out of it is it makes you feel good about what you’re doing.”

For something like that, Kim Farmer will always find a way to make the time.

 

-Scott Johnson

 

The third annual Team Parkinson's: Walk in the Park will take place on July 30th at Warren G. Magnuson Park in Seattle. Registration begins at 8:30am and the Walk starts at 9:30am. If you are intrested in volunteering for the Walk, email Anne Alkema at anne@nwpf,org.

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