Home Country: United States
Why should you be the IVHQ volunteer of the year?
My volunteer experience is robust and diverse. I am a strong contributor in local, national and international volunteer opportunities. I enjoy absorbing, recording and sharing our backgrounds with one another. Reaching out and embracing similarities and differences invites love, understanding and patience into our lives. I am truly a worthy recipient of this award as the ways of how, where and when I volunteer continue to grow:
- Re-Member Organization - Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, South Dakota - registered to lead a volunteer trip over Spring Break, March 2016
- IVHQ Costa Rica - Construction Crew in Barrio Cuba; led Spanish-English dictionary and Band-Aid collection drive at our local junior high and high school
- Hesed House Volunteer - serve lunch and dinner, organize toiletries, fold laundry, distribute mail
- DuPage Pads Volunteer - donated over $500 in contributions after hosting a Mother-Daughter tea and asking friends/guests to bring summer wish list items published on DuPage Pads website
- Feed my Starving Children Volunteer - organize and pack food
- Emergency Meals Committee - Saints Peter and Paul Church - make dinner for National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) and community members in need
- Naper Settlement Parent Volunteer - history connector on site
- Literacy Volunteers of America - support families to increase literacy skills
- Community Closet for Women Volunteer - collect wardrobe specific clothing for women seeking job opportunities
- Naper Elementary School Board Member - secretary and recorder of meetings
- Girl Scout Leader Troop 711 and 757, Outstanding Leader of the Year
- Rainbows, Inc. Bereavement Facilitator - trained in helping teenagers with death, divorce or other painful transitions
- Beebe Elementary School Library Parent Volunteer- read to students and promoted independent reading outside of school
- Naperville Centennial Beach Swim Team Board Member- volunteered as coordinator of concessions stand and provided refreshments for multiple swim teams
- Young Life Christian Youth Group - opened our home for high school students to gather and pray together. Participated in community benefits
- Naperville Junior Women’s Club - engaged in multiple local philanthropies
- Naperville Safety Town - volunteered in partnership with the police department to review safety procedures at home and in the community
- Host Family - AFS-USA - hosted exchange student from Germany during school year. She returned to visit us again this past summer.
- Host Family - Richard & Turgis French Linguistics Group - hosted exchange student from France.
What motivated you to get involved with volunteering?
My main motivation grows from my family. My mother died of cancer at 49 years old and on her tombstone it read, “A lifetime of giving to others.” She first introduced me to the importance of volunteering in our community. My husband and two daughters inspire me to be better, give more, stay later. And my national and international travels serve to enhance and heighten my awareness for the need and desire to volunteer. Traveling to Canada, Costa Rica, Ireland, Spain, Austria, England, Italy and France has broadened my world perspective and taught me that what we do, how we behave and what we give matters.
How much time do you dedicate to volunteering?
I volunteer in some capacity every month. For some organizations, it is seasonal, depending on schedules and needs. I am on the call list for several local organizations and will arrange my day to serve multiple hours or all day shifts.
What is the most rewarding part of your volunteer work?
Engaging in the extraordinary exchange of ideas is the most rewarding part of my volunteer work. I naturally gravitate toward listening and am an ethnographer of sorts. I like to hear people’s stories. How do they see the world? Why? And what can we do together to make a difference? When I am volunteering I usually choose the most arduous tasks because I seek the challenge and strive to find solutions to make life more beautiful.
What is the greatest challenge of your volunteer work?
The greatest challenge of my volunteer work involves time. I am constantly thinking of avenues to share my time and devotion to volunteering. I place a special emphasis on time – both planned time and spontaneous time because the moments where we are fully present count the most. Reserving a two-week block of time to IVHQ in order to volunteer would be incredibly rewarding and fit with my current teaching schedule in January 2016.
Why do you believe you will be effective volunteering within a community abroad?
I am a tireless and compassionate advocate for students with special needs. My background in teaching developmental reading and writing has spanned over twenty years. My training is at the Ph.D. level in literacy. Most of the students I interact with have diagnosed learning and physical disabilities. I work diligently to motivate students to achieve while preparing them for rewarding and productive lives. My work in creating both traditional and online curriculum has earned the International Blackboard Catalyst Award for Exemplary Course Design in online composition instruction. Awarded the Outstanding Faculty Member of the year at College of DuPage in 2015, I strive to engage students in dialogue about their literacy history, culture and goals. I am undeterred by challenges and will be effective in a community where hope and help is valued.
What are you hoping to gain from an international volunteer experience?
Sharing my knowledge and background in education with others, being able to explain and demonstrate literacy in creative and adaptable ways. Inspiring young people to immerse themselves in communication to foster a global bond among us.