What I’m Thankful For This Year- CARE Volunteers
One thing that many people are surprised to learn when they encounter the CARE staff team is that there are only two of us. Our Executive Director Tammy Hettinger joined in May, and as Program Manager, I have had the pleasure of working for CARE for over three years now. When you have a staff of two for a national organization like CARE, there’s a lot to do. Titles don’t mean as much as the hats we wear and the areas we oversee. Of our staff of two, I’d argue that I am luckier because I get to wear the best hat every day: Volunteer Development.
With a small staff, we rely heavily on volunteers to execute CARE’s mission and help oversee crucial projects that help our organization grow and improve. The heart of CARE, our classroom education program, is managed and run exclusively by our volunteers at the local level. Each CARE chapter is overseen by a small group of volunteers who take time away from their caseloads, inboxes and busy schedules to work toward our common goal of educating today’s youth into better adults for tomorrow. That’s pretty special, and I treasure each volunteer interaction I have.
I am Thankful for New Volunteers
I’d like to acknowledge a new crop of volunteer leaders we’ve had this year. These are volunteers who had given CARE presentations in other parts of the country and, after moving to a new city for a job or family, decided to take up the mantle and start their own CARE chapters. Their passion for the organization helped grow our reach into new markets. We should also thank those who inspired these new volunteers to get started. These are our longtime, dedicated volunteer coordinators who encourage young professionals and new prospects to step into the classroom for the first time and share their stories.
One such volunteer leader is Kayce Seifert, whom Tammy and I have come to spend quite a bit of time with over the past few months while helping her launch the CARE DC chapter. She started her CARE volunteerism as a law clerk for Judge John Waites in South Carolina and gave a few presentations with our South Carolina chapter before eventually moving up to D.C. to take a job with the federal government. After settling in, Kayce reached out to CARE in April to get involved and kick-start CARE in D.C. Tammy and I were honored because we were able to witness a mini-reunion of Kayce and Judge Waites at the NCBJ Annual Conference last month in D.C.
I am Thankful for Our Volunteers’ Dedication
Another great part of working with our volunteers is the unending excitement, positivity, and passion for their work in CARE. If I’m having a bad day, I look to my schedule for my next volunteer call. When I’m stuck on a particularly complex problem or I’m not sure how to address a challenge that a volunteer is having, I know I can email any number of our volunteer leaders and they are there to help. However, our coordinator brainstorms are my favorite recurring volunteer events. Every other month, we have the opportunity to provide a platform for our volunteer leaders across the country to come together for idea-sharing, problem-solving and volunteer collaboration. This volunteer-to-volunteer engagement really highlights what is special about our organization and our volunteers. We get to see up-close and personal how much energy and love they put into their volunteer work, and they are excited to share that passion with their peers.
My day job involves working with over 60 volunteer chapters in 35 states, D.C. and Puerto Rico. I have the opportunity to work with 124 dedicated and passionate volunteer leaders across the country and countless other volunteers who make a real impact on the lives of students and young adults in their local communities. I am excited to see what 2020 brings for CARE, and professionally, I couldn’t be more grateful for our CARE family.
Reader, if you’re a CARE volunteer, thank you! Whether you’re a long-time volunteer who’s given 50 presentations or you’re brand-new and about to make your first, the stories and passion you bring to the classroom are amazing. If you haven’t yet signed up to volunteer, it’s easy (and fun!). Visit our website at care4yourfuture.org/volunteer to find a CARE chapter in your area.
About the Author
Ian Redman is CARE’s National Programs Manager and joined the team in September 2016. In his spare time, Ian is an avid gamer (both analog and digital games) and lives in Charlotte, NC with his wife and three cats. As of publishing this, his private student loan balance is $76,648.04.