Describe a volunteering experience that was memorable?
Every volunteering experience with the NPF has been wonderful. I think it’s amazing how the doctors and patients have been involved with the organization from the very beginning. The work we take part in is very meaningful and we all come together to reach our goals. Having the chance to meet some of our pediatric patients and seeing what they have been through is life changing. They are so strong and it’s incredible to see how positive their spirits are even when dealing with terrible pain.
How did you get involved with the National Pancreas Foundation (NPF)?
After living with Chronic Pancreatitis for many years, I realized that there wasn’t much information available to the public on how to treat the disease and live comfortably. My longtime friend Patter Birsic, her sister-in-law was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer at age 38 and we both realized the people deserved to have adequate treatment and information on pancreatic diseases. We wanted patients to be able to receive the best care possible, so in 1997 we co-founded the NPF.
What advice would you give to someone who is considering volunteering?
I would tell them that it’s an absolutely wonderful experience. It makes you feel good about yourself all the time and it helps others tremendously. I would encourage the person to pick a non-profit that’s appropriate for them and I would ask them to think, what are they passionate about? You can volunteer in many fields including medical, education, poverty, among others. Once they can figure that out, they should find a non-profit that supports something meaningful and important. To them If there is passion, you will do it well.
What characteristics do you look for in a person when recruiting volunteers?
Typically, a volunteer is friendly, open minded and willing to listen to others who are going through a difficult time. A volunteer is willing to give their time unpaid and regardless, they enjoy being around other people. We don’t look for a specific type of person when we recruit volunteers for NPF. Instead we put individuals into roles that are best for them, so we can help them develop and they can pay it forward by growing the organization. Volunteers can do things such as giving out name tags at events, raising funds and anything in-between. Everyone can play a role as long as they are willing to help where needed!
How did you become involved with BrainUp?
I became involved with BrainUp about four years ago when my best friend lost his girlfriend to brain cancer. It is an uncommon disease that does not receive too much attention and I wanted to contribute something to make an impact and change that. I started the Young Professionals Board (YPB) to not only raise awareness for brain cancer and funding but to also provide a space for young individuals to make a difference in the community. Most of the board members range from 22-30 years old and come from many different occupational backgrounds.
To be a volunteer, is there a certain skill set you must have?
Just the willingness to give your time to support a cause. All our volunteers have different skills that are equally beneficial to the organization. My friend Lauren is an exceptional Graphic Designer; everything she creates is amazing. She didn’t realize that her skills would be useful for BrainUp. Now she does all the graphics for the organization and her work has made us stand out. Her specialty is an asset to BrainUp. By Volunteering, you can learn from others and try something new.
How has volunteering expanded your social network?
The Young Professionals Board has allowed me to network with new people and board members at other organizations. It has become an effective conversation starter too, as I recently went on a job interview and my interviewer attended one of the BrainUp events. I couldn’t believe he was one of the 300 people who attended and we just so happened to land in the same room. After making that connection, he shared feedback on what he thought about the event and it was very useful. I believe that the volunteer work I did for BrainUp made me stand out and I think that was what got me the job offer. It was a good feeling.
What are the most important characteristics you find in a volunteer?
Individuals who can be active in an organization and who can take initiative represent a quality volunteer. When we are recruiting for the Young Professionals Board, we like to take people who want to be a consistent presence within the BrainUp family. We look for people who are not afraid to take action and who can work well with others towards a solution. As a volunteer, you don’t have to be directly tied to the cause to make a difference for someone who is affected.