How long have you been participating with Hands4Hope - Youth Making A Difference - Youth Making A Difference?
I believe I’ve been volunteering with you since 2013….sad that I can’t remember!
Why did you join Hands4Hope - Youth Making A Difference - Youth Making A Difference?
I was looking for an opportunity to give back to the community on my own and not just volunteering for organizations that my son was involved in. As his interests changed I would find myself volunteering for a different cause – and sometimes still volunteering for the things my son was no longer interested in because I couldn’t let go. It’s ironic that I chose a youth-led organization to volunteer with as a separate activity from my son although he and my husband have helped with events over the years. I discovered Hands4Hope - Youth Making A Difference back in the days we did the Haunted House. It was so much work but I still miss seeing the youth all dressed up and the community's reaction to the event.
What outreaches do you usually volunteer with? Which do you enjoy the most?
I have been the adult lead with Winter Boutique for the last 2 years and also for Sister Nora’s Place for 6 years. I enjoy both of these outreaches for different reasons. The Winter Boutique is an amazing experience. To start with an empty storefront and transform it into a delightful boutique where people can “shop” for needed clothing items is a very heart-warming experience. I have had the chance to talk with the shoppers as they wait in line and truly understand how grateful they are to have this opportunity to get warm clothes for their family at no cost. The youth I work with are so talented and energetic and always have creative ideas. It’s inspiring to see it all come together.
I also co-lead the Sister Nora’s outreach with fellow adult volunteer Gen Walk. Sister Nora’s is a long-term shelter for women with a history of homelessness, trauma and mental illness. In non-COVID times Gen & I, along with our amazing youth volunteers, cook a fabulous dinner and deliver it and share it with the ladies who live there. Some women come and go but there are several who have been in residence since before I began volunteering there. I have had the humbling experience to get to know these ladies and am in awe of their strength and resolve. Unfortunately with COVID, the youth has been unable to attend with me but I still cook a meal every month and deliver it. I cant stay and eat with them but most times one or two of the ladies will meet me outside and we can have a quick chat. The youth have been making amazing and incredibly creative desserts and crafts for the ladies which are very much appreciated.
What is your impression/experience with Hands4Hope - Youth Making A Difference youth?
The youth that volunteer for Hands4Hope - Youth Making A Difference give me hope and pride for the next generation. In my different outreaches I have had the opportunity to work with youth on their very first outreach all the way to youth who have so many hours they have lost count! I have seen shy, quiet youth who would barely speak a word, turn into leaders and advocates for all that Hands4Hope - Youth Making A Difference stands for. Many have gone on to prestigious colleges. The first youths I started working with have gone on to amazing careers and continue to do good work for our community. I hope I have played a small part in their passion for service.
Overall, what has your experience been like since joining?
I am blessed to be part of such an amazing organization. I do a lot for this organization but it does even more for me. It is very important for me to be making a difference and I experience great joy, volunteering for Hands4Hope - Youth Making A Difference. What makes volunteering for Hands4Hope even better is not only do I get to impact my community but I can mentor youth as well who will then go out and serve their communities for their lifetimes as well. As Walt Disney would say, “It’s the circle of life..”
Lastly, we know you've done a TON of work with the Winter Boutique and Sister Nora's. Can you tell us what you've been doing and what it means to continue to serve during the pandemic?
Being able to volunteer during the pandemic with both Winter Boutique and Sister Nora’s is one of the only things that keeps me sane – that and a lot of yoga! I don’t get out a lot but when I do, it's to meet my family’s basic necessities (grocery, etc.) or to volunteer with Hands4Hope - Youth Making A Difference. I have it pretty good in that I have kept my job, am able to work from home and still have the ability to serve my community.