Title: Manager of Volunteer Engagement
Homeport annually involves 1,000 volunteers who donate over 5,500 hours for the benefit of Homeport residents and our communities. I’m responsible for identifying programs, properties, and business needs where volunteers can enhance or extend our ability to carry out our mission. I develop relationships with corporate partners, universities, community groups and individuals who are passionate about investing their time to make those projects a reality. These volunteer opportunities range from tutoring in an afterschool program and teaching Adult ESL to New Americans, to repairing fences and conducting community surveys.
What do you like most about the organization?
Homeport is at the forefront in addressing the quality and supply of affordable housing in Columbus and Franklin County -- factors that are foundational to everything from personal health to neighborhood safety. Our solutions are both top down and bottom up. I’m just as interested in correcting the systems and industries that have an invisible but outsized role in our community’s wellbeing as I am in providing one-on-one support to clients and residents navigating their path to personal success. I learned about Homeport when I was at Otterbein University for college and my dad was back home losing ground on an adjustable rate mortgage. He was working full-time as an auto mechanic, repairing service trucks for the phone company in the evening, and collecting scrap metal on weekends. He was struggling to keep up with rising payments on an old mill town house in Western Pennsylvania. And that was a common theme in neighborhoods across the country. In researching what might be available to help him in Pittsburgh, I learned about Homeport’s work here in Columbus arranging loan modifications and coaching clients to pay off debt and rebuild their credit. I learned that Homeport was part of a local taskforce to propose broader solutions to the housing crisis, and that lawmakers regularly sought Homeport’s expertise on how they could best bring about change for the communities they represented. I decided this was how I wanted to apply my Sociology degree, and I submitted my resume three times until the right opportunity opened. I was inspired by Homeport’s leadership on this front before I worked here, and I have been ever since.
What have you done in your career that you are most proud of, or that people may not be aware of?
This year marks my 10th anniversary with Homeport. Before managing volunteers, I spent most of my years writing and managing our grants and corporate contributions. I first joined Homeport as an AmeriCorps Member serving Homeport’s North of Broad community in the King Lincoln District. Managing our large volume of grants stretches your creative and analytical abilities and challenges you to push yourself, but my AmeriCorps work with residents to address immediate issues of break-ins, illegal dumping in their yards, and drug dealers in their alleys was formative. My job is fluid and requires adaptability, so both experiences -- working at street level, but also understanding what our partners and funders need to gain from a project -- have been immensely helpful. I’m as likely to be creating a lesson plan for an afterschool science experiment, training volunteers to build floral arrangements with senior residents, or calculating paint quantities for a home makeover, as I am to be writing a grant to fund a project, or meeting with a new partner. Each day is dynamic.
Favorite things to do outside of work?
I have a wonderful husband, and a daughter who just celebrated her fifth birthday. We like to cram in as much fun family time as we can on our weekends. We spend a lot of time at Blendon Woods Metro Park or biking on Westerville’s B&W trail. I’m a member of Mad River Mountain’s women’s ski club, the Snow Angels. When I am skiing, my husband, Andy, snowboards. This winter we’ve been introducing our daughter to skiing (which, she reminds Andy, is so much cooler than snowboarding). It has been so rewarding to watch her interest and her confidence grow. This year I’ll be going to Ohio University-Dublln to get a Master of Public Administration, and my daughter will start Kindergarten. I’m looking forward to our next few years of doing homework together at the dining room table. And I hope Andy is as eager to cook even more of our family dinners.