This is the third 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.
An Incredible Amount of Heart
What was your motivation to start volunteering?
"I began my career as an art and museum educator with the idea of changing the world through the power of community based art. My career path shifted and I veered into management, but my heart and soul always stayed with the truth that the practice of art transforms people and communities. When I returned to Richmond, a friend told me about these cool people sharing art in an incredible way. I met Andrea and Kevin, learned about Art on Wheels classes, met our students, saw their work and was hooked. 2014 will be my fourth year serving on the board of Art on Wheels and marks the longest time in my adult life that I've stayed in one city. The stories of our students, the need in our community and the dedication and creativity of the Orlosky’s is what keeps me energized in the work and engaged with our Richmond community. Every year I fall more in love with what we do and how we do it. No one else in Richmond provides art and community like Art on Wheels."
A Student with a Love for Nature
"My love of nature and all its beauty motivated me to apply to be a volunteer at Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden. I felt is was important for me to share my passion of nature with other and give back to the community. I have volunteered in the children’s garden at Lewis Ginter during the summer and holidays for four years, educating visitors of all ages. Volunteering has helped me become more outgoing, creative, and confident. The hours I dedicate at Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden enrich not only my life, but also the lives of many who visit the garden."
Daniel has been a volunteer in the Children's Garden at Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden since 2009 and has given 261 hours in service so far- this is a tremendous gift and dedication, especially considering he was thirteen when he first began. Thanks Daniel, we appreciate you so much!
Dedicated to LGBTQ Youth Advocacy
Carter is the President of the Board for ROSMY, an organization that ensures Virginia’s lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning youth an equal opportunity for success through access to support, education and advocacy. He is an amazing asset to the organization, devoting a substantial amount of time every week to make sure that ROSMY is able to meet its mission. He is a leader, a coach, a staunch supporter of his team, always ready with a gentle nudge and supportive words of encouragement. Under his leadership the board of this organization is able to embrace leading practices in fund development and is working hand in hand with staff to elevate ROSMY to its fullest potential.
Don't Be Afraid to Be Weird
Give some advice for the next generation of awesome volunteers.
"No matter how shy, awkward, or weird you may believe you are, people will just see your exuberance when you work to teach, motivate, and encourage. So don't be afraid to step out of your shell and make a fool of yourself for a cause."
Katie is an ultimate enthusiast and has done much to build the sport of ultimate in the Richmond area, especially for women and young adults. She started a women's competitive club ultimate team in 2012 here in Richmond, which happens to be the only one in the state. She has captained the team the last 2 years which requires time, energy and perseverance as a volunteer. Her efforts have paid off as the team has grown as a program, winning sectionals in 2013. In addition to providing an opportunity for high level play, Katie has also organized weekly women's ultimate pick up games to foster and establish a women's community in Richmond. She has worked to build women's ultimate on the college scene but volunteering to coach the VCU women's ultimate team, has hosted clinics with the University of Richmond women's ultimate team and organized a full day skills clinic and tournament for the region's college women's ultimate teams. This event served to build camaraderie among the college players, enhance their skills, and allow them to meet and learn from upper level club players. Finally Katie has volunteered her time for the last year as a Richmond Ultimate board member. This organization strives to build awareness of and opportunities to play the sport of ultimate. She has served as the Women's outreach chair and supported or spearheaded many of their activities, including launching an indoor spring league this spring.
A "Volunteer Rock Star"
Give some advice for the next generation of awesome volunteers.
"The advice I would give to the next generation is to dig deep and give more of themselves. This day and age it seems that everyone is just "too busy" with their own lives to stop and give a little to others. Just an hour a week, getting involved with helping another person, not only helps the cause but also makes you realize how little it takes to make a difference to someone else. When I started volunteering, I learned so much about myself and what I truly love...watching children grow through the outdoors. I have worked in many levels of outdoor education, but it was not until I started volunteering, that I found my true passion. Watching children learn through their accomplishments and overcoming obstacles through rock climbing, hiking or just being outside experiencing nature, is one of the most rewarding things I have ever done. So my advice to the next generation is to find something you are passionate about and dedicate some of your time and Volunteer!"
Taking On Numerous Challenges for HandsOn
Ashley is often the first person to step up when extra support is needed. Ashley is calm, cool, and collected, and has led numerous projects in her 3-year volunteer leader term with HandsOn Greater Richmond: FeedMore, Communities in Schools, and CARITAS. She’s appeared on Fox Morning Marketplace to talk about her work with HandsOn and volunteer projects.
"I was laid off from my job and suddenly had a lot of free time. I wanted to do something productive and decided to volunteer with Habitat for Humanity. I really enjoyed myself and started looking for more opportunities. That search lead me to HandsOn. I then wanted to be more involved and join the Volunteer Leader program with HandsOn. I have had some good times helping my community and meeting others with the same goal. I'm thankful for my experiences and would encourage others to get involved just once. It's a wonderful feeling to be a part of a collective group of people all working together to help a community."
Finding Inspiration in Unlikely Places
"I was inspired to volunteer watching the TV show Extreme Home Makeover. I know that might sound silly, but they would change people's lives and it was so very touching to watch. I wanted to help people too, so I asked a friend where I might find volunteer opportunities. He suggested Activate Richmond, which soon became HandsOn Greater Richmond. I only volunteered two times before I was hooked. I then went on to participate in their first annual HandsOn Day, and later helped to plan it for several years. The experience of bringing together over 1000 volunteers to over 40 non-profits in one day was truly transformational for me. This volunteer committee work helped me volunteer with Komen, so I also began planning the Race for the Cure. Over the last few years, I've had the opportunity to explore multiple positions on the Race Committee, and they have all been rewarding in different ways. Over the years, I have met amazing women (and men!) committed to help find a cure for breast cancer. Now, I can't imagine my life without my pink family!"
Jen Miller spends countless hours volunteering in the Richmond region for the Central Virginia Foodbank, HandsOn Greater Richmond and Susan G. Komen Central Virginia. She is currently a member of our Board of Directors and is chairing our signature Race for the Cure for the third year. She can regularly be found around town engaging in Random Acts of Kindness, whether it be handing out Target or Starbucks gift cards just because, or paying a toll or tab for someone who isn't expecting it.
A "Tireless Volunteer"
Chanel is an East End resident and single mother of three daughters. She is a tireless volunteer for Richmond Promise Neighborhood (RPN), a collaborative group of East End families, schools and providers working to improve the education and development of youth. As RPN’s Community Advocate, she has volunteered an average of 20 hours weekly since 2010 enhancing community engagement. RPN could not function without her wisdom, energy and many talents. Chanel serves as a Co-Convener of the Early Childhood work team, is an RPN Advisory Board member; and serves as the co-webmaster. She powers good in her community.
The Importance of Family
"My mother has volunteered for so many organizations, causes and political races I couldn't begin to name them. She is highly motivated for social improvement. Just in the past 3 days she helped with a birthday party for the kids at the Bon Air Juvenile Detention center, she walked many miles to support a candidate for school board, & she had one of the classes she organized for a Sunday school series on Virginias Mental Health situation. Most likely there were more things she did in between those efforts and I just don't know. She was a PTA member and officer for probably three decades. She has been on so many boards I couldn't begin to name them. She has volunteered to help folks suffering from substance abuse and learning disabilities and has worked for the arts. She is passionate about a lot of things and she uses her time tirelessly to help others. She also raised 4 children, worked and helps all of us with our children. Her power comes from her longstanding knowledge of the history of Richmond (political and social), where we have been, who has been involved and her hopes for the future. She stays interested in everything and everyone and looks for opportunities to make things happen." - Laura Finch
"Motivation: First, following in the tradition of my father, who volunteered in environmental efforts and much more, made volunteering natural for me. Matters of concern and fairness have spurred me to work where you feel like you can make a difference. Family concerns such as special education, drugs, arts for the handicapped led me to work with organizations addressing needs in those area. Promoting women’s health care through the MCV Women’s Health Advisory Council led to a center devoted to the unique health care needs of women. The Transportation Committee of the Chesterfield Business Council sought to improve public transportation to help workers obtain and keep jobs. Finding and encouraging citizens to run for office and then supporting them when they run is important to make sure we have qualified and good leaders. And, at the moment, urging elected leaders to support Medicaid expansion because so many desperately need health care that they cannot afford. Also, at present working on the Chesterfield County Center for the Arts, an attempt to provide an arts center for Chesterfield residents who do not have a county facility. Volunteering brings great pleasure in meeting and working with so many people of like mind who become friends and associates for many years.My worst experience? Working at Byrd Park at a fair for children stressing the importance of sobriety when driving. When no one else could or would work at the booth, I did it. My mother was quite ill. She died a few days later. I will always regret that volunteer day. Volunteers must remember priorities of family. I’m not sure I have been very good at that." - Nancy Finch
A Lifetime of Volunteering
Advice to future generations?
"Search for volunteer opportunities like you would a new job. You can either engage with the organization's mission or with the "job description" i.e., the task or event. In some instances, it can be both! When I began my volunteer "career" I looked for opportunities where I was using real job skills and interests like planning, writing, analytical work. One of my favorite opportunities was developing the website for Richmond Promise Neighborhood with a web designer. She was working at a very reduced rate because she believed in our mission and I took the lead on the effort. It was a great opportunity to use a lot of my favorite interests and skills - creativity, writing, project planning, technology - and combine them with some newfound ones like web design and upkeep. People forget that nonprofits are businesses, even the small ones and it takes competent people to keep them successful. Skills and job development doesn't always come with a paycheck! "
Patte is a life long community volunteer. She has contributed her talents and more than 75 hours monthly to the Richmond Promise Neighborhood initiative (RPN) for almost 4 years. She writes grants, establishes and nurtures relationships with funders and community partners, and serves on the organization’s Advisory Board. She has also been on the Board of Family Lifeleine for 12 years and works weekly with them. Patte has been a coach, catalyst and strategic planning consultant for the community development work of Richmond Promise Neighborhood.