“Getting outside myself and volunteering for a cause I believe in always helps me to move past my own problems and focus on others”
Olivia Hayden won’t waste a word. The brisk style she employs to describe her work and motivations is a tell-tale signature of the kind of person who would much rather be doing than talking-about-doing. “Giving back allows me to ‘put my money where my mouth is’ and support the things I value,” she stated after reluctantly removing the dollars she donates to organizations like the Hill Country Conservancy from her teeth’s tightened bite to answer my questions.
Olivia works for Whole Planet Foundation, a Whole Foods Market Foundation that gives opportunity through microlending in 69 countries around the world, but she won’t tell you much about what she does individually as a leader in digital strategy and fundraising for the organization. Instead, she will lay out what Whole Planet Foundation does collectively to serve a diverse spectrum of communities in need across the globe through an elegant system of targeted financial support.
Giving almost seems like an instinct for Olivia: it is her immediate and natural response to whatever beauty, goodness, or love she finds in the world on any given day. If she does happen upon some free time, a hike through the hills of central Texas or possibly some time on the water of Lady Bird Lake do well to rejuvenate her spirit. But Olivia won’t take anything without giving something in return–not even from Mother Nature. So, naturally, she works with the Hill Country Conservancy as a steward of the Violet Crown Trail and volunteers for groups like Austin Parks Foundation, Keep Austin Beautiful, and the Texas River School.
Olivia’s own words best capture the selfless perspective and simmering sense of duty she practices every day with an inspirational simplicity: “Even though I don’t have a lot of money, I try to invest my dollars in things I know are effective in the long run, and my time in things that make an immediate difference for my local environment. If I’m ever feeling caught up in a stressful situation, getting outside myself and volunteering for a cause I believe in always helps me to move past my own problems and focus on others.”
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