Staff Spotlight-Meet Kathleen!

kaht

Meet Kathleen, or Kat, for short. She is one of the newest members of the Corporate Service team at Jersey Cares, but after getting to know her, you wouldn’t think it. When she’s not coordinating volunteer events, Kat enjoys painting (she’s good too—check her out here), trivia, and spending time with her family and her dog, Irwin. Last month we sat down with Kat and got to know her a little better!

Which of your projects are you most proud of?

“L’Oréal — I was overwhelmed with the amount of support I received from my team…[and] just seeing the difference the volunteers made at the two schools we worked with on that day gave me such a sense of pride.”

 

Which is your favorite Jersey Cares collection drive? Why?

“The Coat Drive is my favorite because I get to work with members of the community for our sort-off day…and I love experiencing how involved they are willing to be for such a great cause.”

When planning a Corporate Service project, what is the most exciting part of the process?

“I really enjoy working with the volunteers and the anticipation of knowing how they will be impacted by their service; it’s always a great reminder of how important their work is to the agencies we partner with and I really enjoy being a part of that.”

What attracted you to work for Jersey Cares?

“I really enjoy that I would get to see from start to finish the impact that volunteers make in the lives of people and community-based organizations and schools. I love being a part of that kind of change.”

Finally…what’s your favorite flavor of ice cream?

“That’s easy! Chocolate Peanut Butter!”

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Take 5 With ServiceWorks – Marc Wolensky

 

In the spirit of National Volunteer Week (#NVW2016), join us as we celebrate service. This week we will highlight volunteers who are Success Coaches supporting our ServiceWorks program in Newark. NJ. These inspiring individuals are paving the way and leading our Scholars to the onramps they need to lead a fulfilling life. ServiceWorks is a three-year, nationwide initiative that uses community engagement and volunteer service to help underserved youth and young adults develop the skills they need to prepare for college and careers. Jersey Cares is one of ten nationwide host sites for this initiative facilitated through a grant received by Points of Light and funded by Citi Foundation through their “Pathways to Progress, a three-year $50 million initiative to unlock economic opportunity for 100,000 low-income youth in 15 cities across the United States.” If you would like to learn more about joining this remarkable team of passionate volunteer leaders, please contact Thomas Dougherty.

Take 5 With ServiceWorks

Marc Wolensky - Jersey Cares - ServiceWorks - Success CoachandSkills Trainer 2016Name:

Marc Wolensky

At which ServiceWorks site are you a volunteer?

Rutgers University

How long have you been a ServiceWorks volunteer?

6 months

Why did you decide to volunteer with ServiceWorks? 

I decided to become a volunteer with ServiceWorks because I believe in the vision, and saw how the program could be very helpful to today’s youth. I compared it to when I was a college freshman, and how being a part of something like this could have been beneficial to me. I am a Certified Health & Wellness Coach, and I originally volunteered to be a Success Coach. But then as I learned about the Skills Trainer position, and the need that ServiceWorks had for them, I felt compelled to do more because I knew that my life’s experiences may be able to help others in their growth, development, and outlooks on life and their futures.

In what ways have you seen Service Scholars grow and develop because of ServiceWorks?

Service Scholars have grown in many ways and developed many new skills because of their involvement in ServiceWorks. I believe that everyone was impacted, even Service Scholars who were not always active in the program. Many of them expressed fears in the beginning about public speaking. It was incredible to see how the Service Scholars began to gain more confidence in themselves, and how it impacted their ability to speak in front of the class, interact with peers, as well as community members within their Capstone Project planning. I think the Service Scholars certainly learned new skills, but even more importantly, they grew confidence in themselves for performing certain activities that they were nervous about, and that can impact them in several other areas of their lives, over the course of their entire lives.

What has been your most memorable or inspiring moment as a ServiceWorks volunteer?

Picking only one is hard! But the feeling deep down that I impacted someone, and made a difference in someone’s life feels incredible! I would like to share a few moments. In my initial meeting with two Service Scholars as a group, seeing the tensions go down and comfortability go up in that session was memorable. Hearing them talking on the way out about “how that was cool”, made me feel like I was doing a good service. Another moment was when I was working with my Service Scholars on visions and goal setting, and one in particular went from being skeptical to being involved and loving it. To hear how she constantly thinks about it now, and is setting goals in more effective ways is truly inspiring to me, because I know that I was able to help her, and she is better off because of knowing me. Same goes for my Skills classes. Many of the students became more comfortable as the Modules went on, and it was inspiring to share with them what I know…and I feel that they had mutual respect for what I had to say, and that they knew I was there to help them. I will never forget my time working as a Success Coach or Skills Trainer, and memories and inspiring moments that went along with it will stay with me forever.

How has being a ServiceWorks volunteer impacted you personally?

I have grown personally in many ways since volunteering with ServiceWorks. As a coach, I was able to develop my skills in new ways. As a Skills Trainer, I was able to step out of my comfort zone and do some things I never thought I could (or would) do, such as plan and lead a college level class! It helped grow my own confidence in myself in many areas of my life, and helped me to become a more Self-Compassionate person. Being able to gain the respect of the Service Scholars, and them knowing that I was there for them…and nothing else…truly made me feel like I was making a difference in the world. And that feeling has impacted me in many more ways that words can describe. Also making new personal relationships with my peers, including my VISTA has impacted me in many ways. I am truly grateful for being able to work with such a great partner, where we were able to truly bring out the best in each other.

In three words or less, describe what it’s like to be a ServiceWorks volunteer.

Helpful, Empathetic, Empowering

 

 

Take 5 With ServiceWorks – Barbara Allende

In the spirit of National Volunteer Week (#NVW2016), join us as we celebrate service. This week we will highlight volunteers who are Success Coaches supporting our ServiceWorks program in Newark. NJ. These inspiring individuals are paving the way and leading our Scholars to the onramps they need to lead a fulfilling life. ServiceWorks is a three-year, nationwide initiative that uses community engagement and volunteer service to help underserved youth and young adults develop the skills they need to prepare for college and careers. Jersey Cares is one of ten nationwide host sites for this initiative facilitated through a grant received by Points of Light and funded by Citi Foundation through their “Pathways to Progress, a three-year $50 million initiative to unlock economic opportunity for 100,000 low-income youth in 15 cities across the United States.” If you would like to learn more about joining this remarkable team of passionate volunteer leaders, please contact Thomas Dougherty.

Take 5 with a ServiceWorks

Barbara Allende - Jersey Cares - ServiceWorks - Success Coach - 2016Name

Barbara V. Allende

At which ServiceWorks site are you a volunteer?

Rutgers and Youth Build

How long have you been a ServiceWorks volunteer?

6 months

Why did you decide to volunteer with ServiceWorks?

I wanted to help first generation college students ease their transition from high school to college and provide guidance to them on navigating their new environment. When I was a college student I remember feeling overwhelmed and wishing I had someone to talk to that could relate.

In what ways have you seen Service Scholars grow and develop because of ServiceWorks?

I have 4 Scholars, and have developed different relationships with them. During our conversations I see how they have adjusted to college and work life and it’s been fun to watch how they blossom into adulthood. There have been growing pains for them all, but going through those pains is how they develop and grow. I’m really proud of all of them.

What has been your most memorable or inspiring moment as a ServiceWorks volunteer?

I had breakfast with one of my scholars, and during our conversation discovered we have many similarities. We were both very young mothers, we both spent time in foster care, we both had similar difficult periods of adversity in our childhood. And during our conversation we bonded. I looked and her and saw myself, and she looked at me and saw what she could become. I’m not a crier, but we both cried during that meeting and we have been close since.

How has being a ServiceWorks volunteer impacted you personally?

I have typically done ‘hands off’ volunteering; volunteering that didn’t require developing close relationships, like fundraising or coordinating groups to collect donations for the homeless, things like that. I am not a person that gets too close to people. I realize now that I have a lot to offer in a mentor relationship and that it’s OK to bond with people, because I can give guidance to someone who is experiencing the same adversities I did in my life. If I can help someone through young adulthood and give them advice to make their life a little easier, then it’s all worth it.

In three words or less, describe what it’s like to be a ServiceWorks volunteer.

Emotional. Hectic. Fulfilling.

Take 5 With Service Works – Cheryl Turman

In the spirit of National Volunteer Week (#NVW2016), join us as we celebrate service. This week we will highlight volunteers who are Success Coaches supporting our ServiceWorks program in Newark. NJ. These inspiring individuals are paving the way and leading our Scholars to the onramps they need to lead a fulfilling life. ServiceWorks is a three-year, nationwide initiative that uses community engagement and volunteer service to help underserved youth and young adults develop the skills they need to prepare for college and careers. Jersey Cares is one of ten nationwide host sites for this initiative facilitated through a grant received by Points of Light and funded by Citi Foundation through their “Pathways to Progress, a three-year $50 million initiative to unlock economic opportunity for 100,000 low-income youth in 15 cities across the United States.” If you would like to learn more about joining this remarkable team of passionate volunteer leaders, please contact Thomas Dougherty.

Take 5 With ServiceWorks

Volunteer Cheryl Truman - Jersey Cares - ServiceWorks - 2016 - Success CoachName:

Cheryl Turman

At which ServiceWorks site are you a volunteer?

Rutgers University

How long have you been a ServiceWorks volunteer?

5 months

 

Why did you decide to volunteer with ServiceWorks? 

It was an opportunity to continue to use my professional skills in counseling and career advisement in another forum.

In what ways have you seen Service Scholars grow and develop because of ServiceWorks?

I am so excited about the career potential I have seen developed in two of my mentees. They actually had light bulb moments as we discussed ways to gain experience and insight into their chosen professions.

What has been your most memorable or inspiring moment as a ServiceWorks volunteer?

When one of my mentees thought outside of the box, about gaining experience and utilized his contacts at the college.

How has being a ServiceWorks volunteer impacted you personally?

I felt like I made a difference in a young person’s college experience.

In three words or less, describe what it’s like to be a ServiceWorks volunteer.

Meaningful, Insightful and Educational

When I Grow Up

This month at Jersey Cares we are celebrating Women’s History Month by inviting some of our friends to share their thoughts and experiences on the women who have inspired them.  Today we feature a piece by Kristen Coppola, Corporate Service Manager.

Kristen Coppola

Kristen Coppola, Jersey Cares Corporate Service Manager

During a month that honors successful, trailblazing female figures, it is almost impossible to pick just one inspirational woman in my life. So, I decided to reference a third grade assignment: “Who do you want to be like when you grow up?” At the time I think I said Sporty Spice to seem cool, but today my answer is surprisingly not a British Pop Star.

 

When I grow up I want to be like my mother. Of course I could go on and on about her inspirational attributes, but a specific moment of weakness is ingrained in my memory. One day we were having a conversation – the kind when you start to analyze every aspect of your life – and she asked “When I die, what will I be remembered by? I haven’t done anything significant.” I empathized with her for a minute, but it soon dawned on me that if she were to die, her friends and family would mourn her infinitely more than an iconic figure they have never met. In this moment, I realized you don’t have to change the world to be remembered, and you don’t have to touch thousands of lives to make a significant impact.

Sharon Coppola1

Sharon Coppola, Kristen’s mom and inspiration

I went into the non-profit field in hopes that I could have the same affect on one person’s life as my mom has had on mine. I’m not sure I can ever be like my mom when I ‘grow up’, but I know a good place to start, and that is to volunteer. Volunteer to help a colleague with their work, volunteer to hold open the door, volunteer to donate a coat for a person in need. Jersey Cares has limitless opportunities to change a person’s life, just by becoming a volunteer. So next time you find yourself in a conversation – the kind when you start to analyze every aspect of your life – I hope you remember women like my mom, and realize you can always be an inspiration to someone.

Audrey Hepburn’s Influence

This month at Jersey Cares we are celebrating Women’s History Month by inviting some of our friends to share their thoughts and experiences on the women who have inspired them.  Today we feature a piece by Kaitlyn Brady, Jersey Cares Senior Manager, Corporate Relations.

I wrote my college application essay about Audrey Hepburn. While growing up watching old movies, she became one of my favorite actresses and thus one of the reasons I wanted to study film. Her acting talents paired with her humanitarian efforts seemed like a great way to talk about my interests and qualifications and convince these colleges that they should accept me. Nearly ten years later, I don’t quite remember the details of the essay that’s now lost on my parents’ defunct desktop computer, but I feel inspired by Hepburn more than ever.  

Kaitlyn Brady

Kaitlyn Brady, Senior Manager, Corporate Relations

After graduating from the University of Rochester with majors in Film and Media Studies and English, I started an AmeriCorps term at Jersey Cares. Unlike some of my colleagues who had been heavily involved in Habitat for Humanity or Alternative Spring Breaks in college, I had minimal experience with hands on volunteering. All that changed during my AmeriCorps term. I led volunteer groups at homes destroyed by Hurricane Sandy, schools in disrepair, and parks littered with garbage and debris. Each and every homeowner, student, administrator, and individual we interacted with and served was so grateful. The difference I made inspired me to stay at Jersey Cares once my AmeriCorps term of service was completed. 

Now, Hepburn’s talents, inspirational words, and legacy resonate with me on a different level than when I applied to college. Her family fled Belgium to the Netherlands before the start of World War II, in the hopes of avoiding any invasions. When Holland was taken over by Germany, Hepburn, like the rest of the country, suffered from malnutrition and had loved ones sent to labor camps. She participated in dance performances to raise money for the Dutch resistance. As an actress, she strategically and thoughtfully chose her roles and also began a business partnership with Givenchy. Hepburn focused on her humanitarian efforts as she stopped taking acting roles. She was appointed Goodwill Ambassador at UNICEF and was subsequently awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom for this work. While working with UNICEF, she traveled to several countries, visiting and helping with the organization’s various programs. When not on these field trips, she still worked tirelessly for UNICEF by testifying before United States Congress, hosting award ceremonies, making speeches, giving interviews, and so much more. Hepburn may be most known for being an elegant fashion icon, but she is so much more than that.  Her background and career demonstrate an incredibly resilient, compassionate woman with business acumen and an undeniable desire to help others.  

audrey hepburn

Audrey Hepburn as a Goodwill Ambassador for UNICEF

 

Hepburn’s shift in focus from acting to her humanitarian efforts might be explained by her own quote, “As you grow older, you will discover that you have two hands, one for helping yourself, the other for helping others.” This quote means so much more to me now than when I first reflected on Hepburn’s influence on my life. I was accepted to college and graduated with that Film and Media Studies degree, but I have found a path that allows me to make good use of that second hand and help others.

 

Gender Vigilante

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Evan Lewis, Jersey Cares Corporate Relations Manager

This month at Jersey Cares we are celebrating Women’s History Month by inviting some of our friends to share their thoughts and experiences on the women who have inspired them.  Today we feature a piece by Evan Lewis, Jersey Cares Corporate Relations Manager.

When I was growing up, I found myself around men much more than I found myself around women. A short list of these men would include my dad, two brothers, no sisters, the kids in my neighborhood were all boys, my all male sports teams, all of my close friends throughout High School were guys, my lack of a girlfriend didn’t help, my college dorm was strictly all male, and my first two jobs only had only one female employee (combined). So I am not proud to say that I didn’t have many influential female figures in my life, besides my mother… love you mom. So rather than trying to pinpoint a single woman who has been influential in my life, perhaps I can explain how I went from being constantly surrounded and influenced by men, to being surrounded and influenced by women on a daily basis, and how  that’s had a significant impact on my life. 

Now that I am a working adult, or at least appear like a working adult, my life has changed quite a bit since my testosterone surrounded youth. In fact, there was one decision I made in college that significantly changed the path of my career and the dynamic of gender in my life. When I was a senior in High School, I was accepted to the Rutgers University School of Engineering and I was thrilled to attend. I had very strong skills in Math and Physics during High School, so I thought engineering would be the perfect fit. In the fall of 2009, I packed my things and settled into my all-male dorm building eager to learn. I knew engineering was a popular field for men, but I didn’t realize how male dominated the School of Engineering at Rutgers would be. In fact my freshman year dorm was the only all-male dorm at Rutgers and it just so happened to be full of all the engineering majors. After struggling with courses such as Chemistry, Calculus II, and others my freshman year, I was beginning to have second thoughts about a degree in engineering. It was at this time where I can actually recall a moment of pure self-reflection where I asked myself, is this really what I want to do? And just like that, I decided to switch majors.  Three years later, in the spring of 2013, I graduated with a degree in Anthropology and a minor in Psychology. By choosing such a field of study, it was clear to all people close to me that I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life. However, I did have an interest in the not-for-profit industry, so I thought that could be a possible avenue for the beginning stages of my career. After graduation, I worked a couple of part-time gigs for a few months until I came across a non-profit organization called City Year New York. At City Year, I was an AmeriCorps member working with a team of 11 recent college graduates (4 men, 7 women) at a K-8 school in East Harlem, New York. Anyway, this is where I began to realize that the nonprofit field was comprised of more women than men. I did not realize the extent of this gender imbalance until I secured a position at Jersey Cares.

When I was first hired by Jersey Cares in September of 2014, I didn’t know exactly what I was getting into. This was my first full-time salaried position. Including myself, there were a total of four men working in the Jersey Cares office my first few months, one of which held a supervisory role and one of which was the Executive Director of the organization. The third male worked in a different department than I did. Needless to say, I felt a bit isolated as a man within the organization. During my first few months, I felt shy and slightly intimidated by the overwhelming presence of women in the office. I thought that my work style was much different, I was unable to relate, and I couldn’t make friends. I thought that being a man gave me a disadvantage. As more time passed by, there was a bit of turnover within the organization and new employees started to funnel in while old employees moved on to other opportunities. Unsurprisingly, all of the new employees were women, and to be honest, there are not that many men out there applying for a position at Jersey Cares (even though there should be). Even though the new employees were women, this suddenly became a turning point for my confidence as an employee at Jersey Cares. I became less shy, no longer was intimidated by anyone in the office, and became friendly with everyone. Why the sudden change in attitude? Maybe I was more comfortable with my work and didn’t necessarily have a great connection with the employees who recently left the organization.  Maybe my previous attitude of being shy and intimidated didn’t have anything to do with the male-female ratio in our office. Maybe the new employees as individuals, not women, had a style of work and overall personality that best fit with mine.

ugly sweater

Ugly Sweater Party at Jersey Cares

 You will notice in the previous paragraph that I stated, “I thought that being a man gave me a disadvantage.” Isn’t that a ridiculous statement? A man in this country, especially a white man in the country, should never utter those words. Though I most likely did not have a disadvantage, that is truly how I felt at the time.  I realized that I had some preconceived notions about the people I worked with during my first few months with Jersey Cares because they were women.  Those preconceived notions may have been formed with some help from of my lack of confidence, but nonetheless I probably wouldn’t have felt that I was disadvantaged if there were more men in the office. The lesson I learned here is that it is very difficult not to have gender biases and we have to make more of an effort to see people as individuals rather than classify them based on their initial appearance. I know that you’ve probably heard that before, but it’s true. It’s especially true for people like me. I believe myself to be a very open-minded young man who has always believed in equality and civil rights for everyone. That doesn’t mean that I can sometimes miss a certain nuance or detail of a particular social situation. We have to be constantly vigilant on the quest for gender equality.  The women that I currently work with on a daily basis are smart, detail oriented, and very good at their jobs, which should not at all come as a surprise. They have indirectly given me more confidence and have made me more aware of the sensitivity of gender biases.  With that being said, I am happy with my job, I currently have a girlfriend that I have been dating for almost two years, and I still love my mom.  I will continue to stay vigilant in getting rid of any gender biases that I may still have and I encourage every person, woman or man, to do that same.