This is the second in a series of five blog posts featuring local volunteers in honor of National Volunteer Week. Nominated volunteers will be honored with a custom portrait on Friday April 11, 2014 at the Power of Good Show.
The Happy Dispatcher
Tell us about an amazing volunteer experience.
"One of our students had just been moved from a shelter to her own government-subsidized but unfurnished apartment. At first, she had no furniture other than a mattress on the floor. When I drove her to her new home, I casually asked, what is the one thing you need the most for your new apartment. Her answer: clothes hangers. Her clothes were in piles on the floor. Of course, we went straight to a cleaners to get recycled hangers, and today her apartment is pretty well furnished. But, oh, my; the little things we take for granted. Not a TV, not silverware (I got some plastic stuff from Wendy's); coat hangers. Coat hangers."
Volunteering in Faith-Based Communities
"Volunteering is an opportunity to both give and receive, and often you receive even more than you give. When you really get into it, the two are indistinguishable. Whenever we live as much for others as for ourselves, we find connection, meaning, and hope. Find the place where your passions and gifts meet the needs of this beautiful and challenging world in which we live. Then jump in and make a difference, in your life and in the larger life that we share. If each of us does just this, we will transform the world into what we need it to be: a world oriented to common good over personal gain."
Tandy has played a vital role between the partnership of Communities In Schools of Richmond, Greene ES and First Unitarian Universalist Church. Tandy is currently the intern minister at First UU and she has taken the role as point of contact for the church and CIS-R. She has worked with many teachers and staff throughout the school, taking part in various activities.
Finding Inspiration from Tragedy
What was your motivation to start volunteering?
"I had read about The Micah Initiative and thought it sounded interesting and like something I might want to do as my career as a psychologist was waning. However, the big impetus for me was when I learned about the murders of the Harvey family by two young men on New Years Day 2006. I wondered what could have gone so wrong for these two young men that caused them to follow such a path of destruction and violence. Having spent over 25 years as a counseling psychologist helping individuals to overcome their problems, I thought maybe I could help in a different way by mentoring young people and helping them follow a different kind of path. In the almost eight years I have volunteered with The Micah Initiative at Redd, I have encountered hundreds of wonderful children and their teachers who have enriched my life immensely. Hopefully I have made a positive impact on the lives of some of these people and helped them to believe in themselves and their capabilities--I may never know--but I do know I have cared for them and my life is better for it."
A Profound Impact
Katie Adams Parrish
"Some of the most profound experiences of my life have been while volunteering. I’ve provided crisis intervention support to survivors of sexual violence. I’ve held the hand of a dying patient and cared for the grieving as a hospice volunteer. I served as a volunteer research assistant with a study examining the impact of inner city violence exposure on 9-12 year old children and the ameliorating effects of positive parenting on children’s resiliency. I collaborated to develop a 9-day arts festival celebrating pregnancy and birth. I have been fortunate to serve as a board member for several worthy organizations, but where I spend the majority of my volunteer time these days is at my children’s school. At the Richmond Waldorf School, I find inspiration every day in the creativity that permeates the education, and my level of involvement has allowed me to develop a deep affinity for each and every child who attends. Over the years, what I have come to realize is that volunteering is both formative and transformative. What we learn, how we grow, the connections we make, the relationships we build, the collaborations we foster are all formative. They impact the very essence of not only who we are, but also who we are becoming. As we work for positive change, for good, for justice, for peace, for the betterment of the world around us – as we lend our voices, donate our dollars, make our art, share our time, offer our expertise, devote our energy, we each individually (and collectively) become a transformative force for good, and in turn, we too are transformed and forever changed for the better."
Going Beyond the Call of Duty
"Volunteer, you will never regret the time and effort. It will be the most rewarding effort you have ever experienced."
Keith Reynolds has been involved with Goochland Free Clinic and Family Services since December of 2008. He began as a volunteer financial counselor, helping clients with their personal budgeting. After seeing the impact of the organization, he joined the volunteer Board of Directors in 2011. As Board President, he consistently promotes positive change by improving teamwork and improving communication to the public. He is instrumental in developing policies to govern the operations of GFCFS. He continuously goes beyond the call of duty by volunteering at special events, including food and clothing drives, spreading the power of good to all.
Leave Your Talent in the Community
"Capturing the stories of people who are leaving a mark on this world endlessly inspires me. Though that narrative is told through my photography it is seeing the light and passion in the eyes of nonprofit community that ignites my sense of purpose to document their impact on the world. It was my dear friend Lisa Thalhimer who first encouraged me to donate a photography package.one year to Fetch a Cure’s fundraiser auction at the Science Museum. That package was generously bought by Katie Botha (Senior Director of Development and Communications for the Special Olympics Virginia). It was Katie who introduced me to the Nonprofit Learning Point (one of the organizations that make up the Partnership for Nonprofit Excellence (PNE). Having been greatly impacted by their organization, she contacted me about photographing their classes. My favorite part of covering the learning environment is capturing the community engagement, light-bulb moments when ideas click and the passion the students have to learn and grow. I love seeing lives being enriched and always come away learning something new. In turn that grew into providing photography for the rest of the partnership. ConnectVA, HandsOn Greater Richmond and Organizational Solutions as well as documenting the work of anybody they have collaborated with in the community which has included the Greater Richmond Chamber of Commerce, Leadership Metro Richmond, Art on Wheels and the Community Ideas Station. Donating photography or event coverage to these other awesome organization has been a fun too – Tackle Sickle Cell Anemia (Children’s Hospital of Richmond and MCV Foundation), Be the Match, Special Olympics Virginia and Sweet Monday, Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden (Cheers for Art) and the Historic Richmond Foundation (The View That Named Richmond).Volunteering constantly increases my gratitude. I’m thankful for people who serve our community so faithfully, for the passion to see positive change in the region and for expanding my horizons as I’m introduced to new people and ideas. Thank you RVA for allowing me to capture your volunteer story. My advice for all those wanting serve the region. As my husband once told me, “Leave your talent in the community.”