During Volunteer Appreciation Month, we would like to take the time to recognize some of our volunteer opportunities, along with the amazing volunteers who fill those roles to help move our mission forward.
Dawn—Tribute to Women of Achievement Committee Member
Dawn first got involved with Tribute to Women of Achievement when she was nominated by her employer, RSM, to be recognized at the event. Following this recognition, she was asked to join the planning committee for the following year’s event. “I choose to volunteer with Waypoint and specifically the Tribute Committee because my journey in this life has not been the easiest,” Dawn said. “Life can be hard. We all experience dark times—but it’s about not staying there, it’s about moving forward from them. I am thankful for those who have extended kindness to me and helped me to move forward in my life. I love that Waypoint is an embodiment of that—a group of committed people and a great place that extends kindness to help others move forward in their life. I believe moving forward is a continuous process for us all. I want to extend kindness and help other women to move forward in their life the same way it’s been extended to me.” This year was the first time Waypoint utilized a committee to support Tribute to Women of Achievement, and it was members like Dawn who came with great ideas and suggestions to continue improving this long-standing event.
One focus of the committee was to increase membership for the Tribute Honor Society, which encourages past Tribute honorees to donate toward scholarships for Waypoint clients. The group decided to plan a mixer to bring together honorees from the past 37 years to meet one another and really learn about the impact their membership has on the clients. The event was a great success and led to our highest membership total to date!
Dawn is a huge advocate for volunteering and giving back to the community you call home. Outside of Waypoint, she supports Four Oaks, United Way, Junior Achievement, and the American Cancer Society. In her free time, she enjoys spending time with her family and friends, supporting her church, and spending time outdoors. Thank you for all you do to support Waypoint, Dawn!
Hilda—Homeless & Housing Services Volunteer
Hilda’s dedication and support to Waypoint’s Homeless & Housing Services has been incredible over the past few years. Hilda first connected with Waypoint when she was in search of a field placement for her Masters in Social Work degree. She chose to work with Waypoint because she had benefitted from the child care services in the past and wanted to give back to allow others to receive the same support she did during her time of need. Following the completion of her internship, Hilda decided to continue as a volunteer with the program. “The metric I use to determine my impact is a smile,” said Hilda. “If I can make one person smile a day, I have done my job.”
Hilda volunteers her time to work one-on-one with households in our community facing a housing crisis. She assists them in problem solving to divert them from shelter or finding an open shelter bed for those with no other options. Shelter Services handles an average of 50 walk-ins per day and answers an average of 80 calls/day, and Hilda spends her time helping meet these needs. She also spends her down time helping organize donations and distributing them to clients, which frees up staff time so they can focus on those looking for housing resources.
J’nae, Director of Homeless & Housing Services, is so grateful for the time and talent Hilda shares with the program. “Hilda is very observant and does a wonderful job reading clients’ nonverbal cues. She has influenced positive trauma informed practices that staff now use regularly with clients, which have been extremely beneficial when clients are escalated. All of these changes have built a better rapport with our clients, allowing us to support them in the best way possible.” Recently, Hilda was nominated by Waypoint staff for United Way of East Central Iowa’s volunteer awards and was chosen as the winner in her category, Hand Raisers! Waypoint is so grateful for her continued support and the impact she has on our staff, clients, and the community!
Nancy—Domestic Violence Victim Services Volunteer
Nancy has been a long-time volunteer with Waypoint’s Domestic Violence Victim Services Program. She had retired from being a college professor and was looking to use her skills to give back to the community in her free time. After getting connected with Waypoint, she thought her experience as a psychology professor and a trained clinical psychologist would be the perfect fit for volunteering with the Domestic Violence Program. “I believed I had some knowledge and skills that I could bring to this volunteer experience. I believe women need to step up for other women to make their lives and the community a safer, healthier place to live,” said Nancy.
For many volunteers like Nancy, volunteering has become a very rewarding experience in their lives. Knowing they are making a difference in the lives of those in need in our community is what keeps them coming back, even after difficult experiences. “When I go to the hospital to advocate for a survivor or transport a survivor, I do the best I can. I try to do what I can—listen, comfort, commiserate, communicate with hospital staff, law enforcement, family members or support persons, offer every resource I have at hand, plan for safety, just be there for talk to fill time and provide a little normality and a sense that life will go on, give her permission to sleep if that is what she needs, help with her physical needs as I am able, plan for the future, inform, answer questions, give options. I use my wisdom, training, and compassion to give her strength, knowledge, relief, and peace, and then I move on. I believe I made a difference in her life and her healing and that makes me think what I do has value.”
The impact Nancy has on Waypoint’s Domestic Violence Program is undeniable. Alexis, Program Coordinator, talks about how helpful it is when Nancy is able to support the program with transportation needs. “Waypoint often gets calls from a domestic violence victim who is fleeing from an abusive partner and is needing a safe shelter to stay in that same day. An advocate helps the client access and secure a spot in shelter, but sometimes, the client does not have a way to get there. Many times, Waypoint has called Nancy to help provide transportation, and many times, with no hesitation, Nancy has said yes. We rely on volunteers like Nancy to help make sure our clients can get to a safe location when they need it most.”
Thank you, Nancy, and all of our volunteers with our Domestic Violence Victim Services Program, for helping us empower victims of domestic violence to move forward in their lives!
Larrisa—Child Care Volunteer
Larrisa is current student at Coe College whose passion for helping women and children experiencing trauma and abuse connected her to Waypoint. She is currently volunteer with KidsPoint Child Care support teachers in the Red Room at KidsPoint Downtown, working with children ages 6 week to 6 months old, and supporting the School Age Kids Program as a KidsPoint Mentor. As a KidsPoint Mentor, she focuses on academic support through a program called Learning Lab which encourages the children to focus on their homework or other educational activities for at least 30 minutes after school each day.
Chris Hamor, Site Director at KidsPoint Downtown, says volunteers like Larrisa are a huge help in the classroom. “They offer extra support to the teachers, which is always welcome. This really allows for the staff and volunteers to truly get involved and be engaged with the children.” Larrisa loves working with the children and says she always leaves KidsPoint feeling happy. “The interactions I get to have with the little ones and the kids in the after school program, who truly get excited about the projects we’re working on, make my heart full. They are always so excited to see me when I come to volunteer.”
In her free time outside of school, Larrisa enjoys salsa dancing and bowling with her friends. Thank you for all the work you do for KidsPoint, Larrisa! We are so grateful for your support!
Wells Fargo first got involved with Waypoint through a suggestion from a Volunteer Council member who had previously used Waypoint’s services. Team members first got involved with Waypoint Wonderland, organizing donations, gift wrapping, and supporting other aspects of the gift distribution. “It’s so rewarding to be a part of Waypoint Wonderland each year,” said Michele, a Wells Fargo employee and Volunteer Council member. “As gift-wrappers or personal shoppers, you get to see how truly grateful the parents are that they get to provide a real holiday for their children thanks to the program. It’s no stretch to imagine the kids’ eyes lighting up as they open the cool toys that you’re wrapping for them, which always brings a huge smile to my face and makes me want to keep volunteering year after year.”
After getting involved with Waypoint Wonderland, Wells Fargo wanted to give employees more opportunities throughout the year to support Waypoint. After a few brainstorming sessions, they were connected with May Baskets for the Homeless, and event that collects brand new household items for Waypoint clients who are exiting shelter or other Housing Services and moving into their own permanent housing. Wells Fargo employees now spend May 1 in front of Waypoint’s building collecting donations in an attempt to “stuff the bus” full of items for Waypoint clients. “I am so glad that I was able to volunteer and help with May Baskets for the Homeless,” says Marcia, a Wells Fargo employee. “We really had a great turnout of our community donating. It really speaks to me how caring people can be. It was very rewarding to be involved in this experience.”
Wells Fargo has been in an incredible supporter of Waypoint over the years, but also gives back to the community at large. “We know Waypoint relies on volunteers to make all of the magic happen,” says Michele. “Nonprofits are idea generators and problem solvers. However, they often rely on volunteers to bring their ideas and solutions to life. Without volunteers like us, so many in the community would never get the help they need.” Last year in Iowa, Wells Fargo and its team members combined to donate $15.2 million to Iowa nonprofits – $10.4 million from the company and $4.8 million from employees. Wells Fargo employees in Iowa also logged more than 200,000 volunteer hours, which is valued at $4.9 million.
Waypoint is incredibly grateful for the over 400 volunteers we work with each year who help us inspire people to move forward in their lives. The over 8,000 hours they contribute to our programs truly make a difference in the lives of those in crisis in our community. If you or someone you know is interested in getting involved, check out our volunteer page on our website or contact Brittany, our Volunteer Manager, at firstname.lastname@example.org.