Volunteers of the Year Landscape

2019 Vol­un­teer of the Year Spotlight

This fall, KYC was thrilled to spe­cial­ly rec­og­nize the extra­or­di­nary efforts of two ded­i­cat­ed vol­un­teers as the 2019 Vol­un­teer of the Year and the 2019 Young Vol­un­teer of the Year, a new award to cel­e­brate a youth vol­un­teer (stay tuned for a spot­light for our youth vol­un­teer, com­ing soon!). Each of their con­tri­bu­tions has helped shape the course of KYC’s pro­gram­ming as they worked to pro­vide bet­ter ser­vice and bet­ter out­comes for our com­mu­ni­ty members.

2019 Vol­un­teer of the Year: Donna!

Although she has earned a relax­ing retire­ment after a chal­leng­ing career in IT lead­er­ship, Don­na has chan­neled her skills and ener­gy to serve her com­mu­ni­ty through mul­ti­ple KYC pro­grams for the last 12 years. The for­mer Chief Infor­ma­tion Offi­cer has her daugh­ter, Lisa, to thank for con­nect­ing her with her post-retire­ment ser­vice through KYC. Lisa want­ed to ensure that Don­na had projects to work on after she fin­ished her pro­fes­sion­al career. So, she recruit­ed Don­na as a vol­un­teer at KYC’s for­mer resale shop, where she began to build rela­tion­ships and a greater under­stand­ing of KYC as a whole.

Find­ing Her Niche

Donna’s work at the resale shop turned out to be just the begin­ning of her dynam­ic vol­un­teer career at KYC. Although she has held a vari­ety of vol­un­teer roles with­in KYC, Don­na found her niche in help­ing clients with their finan­cial concerns.

Finances and Fix­ing Lightbulbs

Volunteer of the Year Group

Donna (center) with her KYC SUPERvisors, Lisa (left) and Jean (right).

Through her pre­vi­ous vol­un­teer roles, Don­na was con­nect­ed with Jean in Ken­neth Young Center’s Old­er Adults divi­sion. Jean man­ages the mon­ey man­age­ment pro­gram that pro­vides guid­ance to old­er adults as they nav­i­gate the com­plex finan­cial aspects of aging, and she invit­ed Don­na to vol­un­teer through that program. 

As a mon­ey man­age­ment vol­un­teer, Don­na began work­ing one-on-one with old­er adults in the com­mu­ni­ty to help them take con­trol of their finan­cial sit­u­a­tions. She works with two to three clients at a giv­en time, and reg­u­lar­ly meets with each of them indi­vid­u­al­ly in their own homes to eval­u­ate their bud­gets, needs, and oppor­tu­ni­ties to low­er expens­es. She reviews their finan­cial doc­u­ments and helps clients apply for pub­lic ben­e­fits and tax pro­grams that help save them mon­ey. She also reviews pay­ment sched­ules to ensure that accounts stay on track. She has learned that some­times sim­ply chang­ing the pay­ment due date of a recur­ring bill can make a huge dif­fer­ence in a client’s abil­i­ty to keep their accounts cur­rent. She has helped clients who were once over­whelmed by debt col­lec­tion calls begin to feel less stressed, less stuck, and more free.

Typ­i­cal­ly, the clients that Don­na sees have lit­tle to no fam­i­ly sup­port, so Don­na becomes one of their con­nec­tions to the com­mu­ni­ty. She often goes above and beyond her duties as a finan­cial coun­selor to ensure that the peo­ple she serves are liv­ing as well as pos­si­ble. She has helped frus­trat­ed clients hook up their TVs cor­rect­ly, and she’s helped them recy­cle the old stacks of paper they’ve been mean­ing to clean up. She con­nects them with appro­pri­ate KYC Ser­vices or the Vil­lage Nurse when they’re not feel­ing well and don’t know where to turn. She has even arrived at an appoint­ment with a new role of toi­let paper when she heard that her client had just run out. Don­na under­stands that replac­ing a burnt-out light­bulb relieves the client’s imme­di­ate stress, and allows them to set­tle in and focus on their planned finan­cial tasks. 

More impor­tant­ly, these small acts of kind­ness show her clients that she tru­ly cares for them as peo­ple, not as just sets of finan­cial line items to rec­on­cile. She builds hon­est, valu­able trust. Per­son­al finances are just that — very per­son­al — and so it’s impor­tant for her clients to trust that she has their best inter­ests in mind. As her clients learn that they can rely on her, they often share more infor­ma­tion and more per­son­al his­to­ry. Some­times that addi­tion­al infor­ma­tion can trans­late into addi­tion­al avenues of sav­ings for the client that would nev­er be uncov­ered by a stan­dard check­list of inter­view ques­tions — all because she took the time to fix that loos­ened lightbulb.

Grow­ing Pro­grams and Grow­ing Impact

Volunteer of the Year Presenter

Don­na is also gra­cious­ly ded­i­cat­ed to serv­ing clients through KYC’s behav­ioral health pro­grams. Donna’s daugh­ter, Lisa, leads KYC’s com­mu­ni­ty liv­ing ser­vices team and sup­ports clients who live with men­tal health chal­lenges. Through her work, Lisa saw a need among some of her clients for extra sup­port to ensure the pay­ments for their month­ly liv­ing expens­es could be made reli­ably. Lisa enlist­ed Don­na to help build a rep­re­sen­ta­tive pay­ee pro­gram to solve this prob­lem for qual­i­fy­ing clients. Through a rep­re­sen­ta­tive pay­ee pro­gram, KYC is able to take over man­ag­ing a client’s ben­e­fits in order to pay for their liv­ing expens­es, like rent and util­i­ty bills, for peo­ple who are unable to man­age their mon­ey on their own. This allows the client to have sta­bil­i­ty as they focus on their treat­ment and recovery. 

Not only did Don­na help cre­ate an effi­cient, sus­tain­able process to get this pro­gram up and run­ning while meet­ing the state require­ments, but she still devotes her time to exe­cute this process today. Between vol­un­teer­ing for the mon­ey man­age­ment pro­gram, the rep­re­sen­ta­tive pay­ee pro­gram, and lend­ing a hand with addi­tion­al admin­is­tra­tive projects around KYC, she has made an incred­i­ble impact for the many clients she serves.

Words of Wisdom

Volunteer of the Year Award Presentation2

Linda (left) and Grace (right) presented Donna (center) with the 2019 Volunteer of the Year award at the Volunteer Appreciation Dinner.

Don­na has helped cre­ate pro­grams, ini­ti­ate pro­ce­dures and effi­cien­cies, and has been an excep­tion­al advo­cate and car­ing resource for the clients that she serves. Her work is a clear and vibrant exam­ple of how impor­tant our vol­un­teers are to the ser­vices that KYC provides. 

Don­na offers a few words of advice to any­one who is inter­est­ed in get­ting start­ed on a vol­un­teer ser­vice jour­ney — just get start­ed! Get your feet wet, try out some­thing new, and if you don’t feel like you’ve found the right vol­un­teer role for you, there are oth­er oppor­tu­ni­ties to find a role that fits you. Ini­tial­ly, Don­na nev­er thought she would be work­ing direct­ly with clients. Now, after work­ing so close­ly with them, she sees the incred­i­ble impact that KYC’s pro­grams can make in the lives of the indi­vid­u­als she has helped. She reflects that lit­tle by lit­tle, you can make a big difference.

KYC is hon­ored to rec­og­nize all that Don­na has achieved and her ded­i­ca­tion to serv­ing our com­mu­ni­ty mem­bers over the last decade. Con­grat­u­la­tions to the 2019 Vol­un­teer of the Year!


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