PlanHero™ is used by so many different people and organizations, especially nonprofits. Because volunteers are the heart of nonprofits, we love it when we can put the spotlight on a volunteer and share his/her story with all of you. We recently had the opportunity to talk to Portland, Oregon volunteer Colette Livermore and she graciously spent the time (no surprise there!) to answer our Volunteer Spotlight 5.
- Tell us a little about yourself. As you know, I’m Colette. I was born and raised in Portland and I married my college sweetheart. We have three wonderful sons and we live in the house I grew up in. I’m a graduate of public school and went to Portland State University. I’m proud of my Native American, Filipino, and European heritage and I am the first in my immediate family to go to and graduate from college.
- What do you do as a volunteer, and how long have you been doing it? I currently volunteer with Alpha Chi Omega sorority and Meals on Wheels. I’ve been volunteering with Alpha Chi for 25 years in many different capacities, all of which involve working directly with collegiate women and alumnae to help them develop their leadership skills and expose them to positive social and philanthropic opportunities. I’ve also been a volunteer with Meals on Wheels for about 21 years, also in many different capacities. I’ve been involved in direct service by serving seniors their meals – both those who are homebound and in the dining rooms. I’ve also worked in a variety of neighborhood leadership roles and I’ve served on the board of directors and strategic planning committee.
- What motivates you to keep at it, and do you have any tips for retaining volunteers? I’m motivated to continue volunteering because I see how my support directly helps people. Whether it’s food to provide necessary nutrition for the elderly or helping younger leaders feel empowered as I encourage them to help reach their academic and professional goals. I really enjoy working with other volunteers and seeing how it helps bring out the best in them as well, all for the greater good. I feel that people will always do better in all areas of their lives when they feel good about what they are doing and how they get to do it. The biggest tip I have for retaining volunteers is to show them my gratitude and respect as often as I can.
- What are some of your best moments in your capacity as a volunteer? When I have on my Alpha Chi hat and I get to interact with young collegiate women, I feel so good when I see them have an “ah-ha” moment and they start to act on it. I’m currently working with a young woman who has never held a leadership role before. She didn’t know how to create an agenda or prepare herself for making a presentation to the entire chapter. Coaching her and encouraging her to find her leadership style started out a little challenging but when I see her progress and watch how her confidence builds, it is so inspirational and will always be a great memory. As for Meals on Wheels, it always brightens my day when I get to deliver meals to homebound seniors. Once particular time, I took a little extra time to help a woman in her home with a shower curtain that had fallen, a TV remote that needed new batteries, a hearing aid that needed adjusting, and her meal needed to be put away. This was early on in my volunteer career and it really helped me understand that I wasn’t just delivering a meal, I was providing social and home support. She was so appreciative and we would always visit a little longer when I delivered her meal.
- How do you inspire others to give of themselves? It always helps to know when someone comes forward to volunteer they are doing it for the right reasons. I encourage them to just be themselves and follow their gut. I try and help them see that we are working together to create the best experience that will hopefully keep them wanting to come back. It takes some adaptation and adjustments where we can, and we find tools and strategies to troubleshoot and sometimes just smile together because we know we have helped someone. I like to think the act of helping someone inspires volunteers to give of themselves. I’m just there to help set it up so it is as positive as possible.
We’re so grateful to Colette for graciously sharing her story, and if you know someone who should be highlighted, shoot us an email so we can help spread the love! For more information on volunteering with a Meals on Wheels program near you, visit their website for more information.