Congratulations, Alaina Olson! 2024 Annette Rafferty Award Recipient

Congratulations, Alaina Olson! 2024 Annette Rafferty Award Recipient

On any given Monday, you can usually find Alaina Olson working in tune with other volunteers down in the Abby’s House Thrift Store, sorting through donations and helping to make the Abby’s shopping experience a good one for our community of shoppers. However, it is just one of the ways Alaina’s passion and drive to support and empower women takes shape and stands out.

How volunteers make their way to Abby’s House are as varied as the volunteers themselves. For Alaina, it was in early 2010, on a friend’s recommendation, that she searched out Abby’s Thrift Store at 52 High Street to simply make a clothing donation.

A chance conversation with a Thrift Shop volunteer — who happily shared information about Abby’s House and its mission — stirred Alaina’s curiosity to learn more. With her passion for supporting women and women’s issues, Abby’s mission to provide shelter, housing and advocacy services for homeless, battered and low-income women spoke to her own values and interests and sparked her passion.  Alaina’s decision to volunteer and support Abby’s House was ignited.

Volunteering at Abby’s provides a whole host of opportunities to get creative and have an impact on women’s lives and Alaina embraced many of them.

She joined the Spring-tacular and 5K Race Committees, worked tables at Christmas Bazaars, manned golf holes at donor hosted fundraising tournaments, and represented Abby’s House at many events. Alaina played an instrumental role in a past perennial fundraising favorite, “The Thrift Shop Fashion Shows and High Teas”, hosted (and modeled) by volunteers, staff, and even some customers having a lot of fun!

Alaina accepted an invitation to join Abby’s Board of Directors and served as a responsible steward of our organization as a member of the Finance Committee, Chair of the Governance Committee, Board Vice President and President — where she served during the 52 High Street renovation and completion.

Abby’s sustainability — its ability to deliver its programs and services to women over the long term was apparent. Alaina and a small team of Board members formed a Board Investment Committee, and, with help, drew up Policy documents and established a Board designated Endowment Fund, now in its 2nd year.

It was as a Board member that Alaina was profoundly affected by the ways Abby’s services helped so many women heal and rebuild and transform their lives under the safety of Abby’s roofs. Though no longer on the Board, Alaina continues to serve on both Board Finance and Investment Committees.

When nominating Alaina for this year’s Annette Rafferty Award, a fellow volunteer wrote, “Alaina uses her many gifts and talents for Abby’s House due to her dedication to the mission. She is a strong leader who inspires those she encounters to use their abilities for the benefit of Abby’s House. Her positive attitude is contagious. Her commitment to excellence encourages fellow volunteers to combine efforts and exceed expectations.”

Reflecting on her journey, Alaina makes special mention of the inspiration of Founder Annette Rafferty, whose legacy and invaluable guidance continue to shape her perspective and enrich her life. “Annette has filled my heart. I see things differently because of her – I see things in a better way.” Alaina said. “Annette has shown me the remarkable power of kindness and compassion.”

We are eternally grateful for Alaina’s continued engagement in our very special Abby’s House community. Alaina believes that all women in need should have a place to be safe, with time to heal and grow – a place like Abby’s House. “To know that even when you feel so very hopeless, there is a safe place for you to turn, a place like Abby’s House, where, with time, you can become the person you need to be in this world”.

The entire Abby’s House community applauds Alaina Olson for her continuous support of women and children facing homelessness, and we express our heartfelt gratitude for her dedication to upholding the Abby’s House mission.

Congratulations, Alaina!