For many who live in the Seattle area, Lake Washington is an example of the area’s natural beauty and an outdoor playground where swimming, boating and fishing is a major entertainment option.
For Microsoft Store associate Sean Watson, however, the lake – along with the region’s other waterways – is a place where he can give back to the community and take part in his favorite hobby, scuba diving.
“Scuba is something I’ve always had a passion for – my only regret is not doing it sooner,” Watson says. “It’s hard to get certified and it makes golfing look cheap, but I enjoy it.”
Watson has several scuba certifications and is working on becoming rescue scuba certified. He combines his zeal for volunteerism and his love for scuba with what he calls his “fun dives” in Lake Washington.
“What I like to do is go out and do a fun clean up,” Watson says. “It’s about giving back to the community and while maybe not everyone notices, everyone can benefit. It also helps wildlife, fish and other aquatic life. I have a goody bag and I just circle around picking everything up.”
And when Watson says everything, he means it. Some of the items he’s found in the lake are hard to believe, including mountain bikes, traffic cones, lawn chairs, video cameras and … cars.
“Every dive is not the same. I have an open mind about what I’ll find,” he says.
Watson works with the park manager and notifies him in advance of his dives. He lets them know what time he’s diving and provides aerial locations of the areas he’s exploring. That way, if Watson discovers large items, he can work with the park manager to send a crew out to pick up the trash and dispose it.
On those rare occasions where Watson discovers a submerged vehicle, he first makes sure the car wasn’t placed there purposely – some stripped vehicles are used as dive destinations for other scuba participants – and then notifies the local police department to make sure they know about what’s in the water.
“I find whatever I can to help however I can,” he says. “In the beginning, I was doing this by myself. But I have started asking other people to start diving with me. My wife just got certified, so she can do some fun dives as well. And I’ve been talking to another local scuba shop where we can spread the word. I want to put something together where we can spend a day or a weekend cleaning up.”
Watson’s carries his can-do attitude into his work at the Store, first at the Bellevue location and now remotely, where he helps with workshops and community training. He also served on the annual giving campaign last year, partnering with other employees and groups to create volunteer workshops so interested people had an outlet to give back.
“Giving back doesn’t have to be a chore,” he says. “It can be something you enjoy doing but it just so happens that a nonprofit for the community at large can benefit at the same time. For me, at least, I get more joy at seeing the joy in other people. I think what I do may be small, but in their eyes, it can mean a lot.”
This is part of a series of profiles about Microsoft Store associates. We are proud to have a diverse and talented team of people from all walks of life who are dedicated to helping our customers achieve more, and we wanted to tell their stories. You can read more in the series here.