TaxProf Blog

Editor: Paul L. Caron, Dean
Pepperdine University School of Law

Sunday, February 11, 2018

Gonzaga Law Student On A Mission To ‘Heal Spokane’ Through Acts Of Kindness, Service

HealThe Spokesman-Review, Gonzaga Law Student on a Mission to ‘Heal Spokane’ Through Acts of Kindness, Service:

October was not kind to Sather Gowdy.

Among other hurdles, Gowdy went through a messy breakup, two people close to him died and an inattentive driver caused a crash that wrecked his car and tweaked his spine—all while he tried to focus on his studies at Gonzaga’s law school.

Gowdy, 30, grew up in north Spokane, the only son of a Whitworth University professor and a Rogers High School counselor. He’s a history buff who names Winston Churchill among his heroes, and he flaunts a giant, ’70s-style Afro.

And although Gowdy is typically upbeat, the whirlwind of tragic and frustrating events in October plunged him into a deep depression.

“I’d wake up and just feel bitter, you know? And I’ve always been taught that you don’t want to be that person,” he said. “You don’t want to be the person who’s always complaining about such, or treating the world like it’s against you.”

One day, an elderly neighbor asked Gowdy to help her with some yardwork. To his surprise, the work was therapeutic, a way to center himself while helping someone else. It was, he said, the first time he had felt truly happy in weeks.

So he didn’t stop.

Although he’s often busy poring over 3-inch-thick law textbooks, Gowdy began volunteering as often as he could: shoveling snow, fixing a neighbor’s fence, pulling old mattresses and garbage from the alley behind his house.

“You sometimes don’t get to choose how you’re needed,” he said.

After a few weeks of volunteering almost daily, Gowdy started a Facebook group and a hashtag, #HealSpokane, and challenged others to commit their own acts of kindness and service. ...

Gowdy is in his second year of law school and plans to become a public defender after graduation. He said he wants to help poor defendants because they often have little control over their situations.

“This city has been good to me,” he said. “I’ve been very fortunate. I have an amazing family. I have amazing people around me. Giving back a little bit is important to me.”

Gowdy was recently featured in a KHQ news segment, and one of his law professors, Ann Murphy, played the clip for her class. “Not only is he a fine individual, he’s a really great student,” Murphy said, adding that Gowdy has far exceeded the 30 volunteering hours required for graduation.

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