Did you know it’s National Volunteer Week? We appreciate our volunteers EVERY week, but we thought we’d take some time out before the week was over to shine a spotlight on two of our volunteers who embody a deep commitment to REACH. And if you’ve ever thought about becoming involved with REACH by volunteering…read on and let these two tell you about the many ways you could be a part of the meaningful work we do.
1. Tell us a little bit about yourselves:
Joanne: I grew up in Newton, and followed my high school boyfriend Bill to college: he was at Amherst College so I went to Smith. We married and eventually settled in Wayland. I feel blessed to have our children, grandchildren and extended family close by and long-time friends as well. Career-wise, I worked at Travelers Insurance Company, played the piano for a ballet teacher, and sold real estate, but spent the majority of my work life (25 years) at Harvard Business School in research management, executive education, and heading up the HBS Publishing group. In 1996, I left HBS and joined a small executive development consulting firm.
Bill: I retired in 2001 after working for 37 years for Digital Equipment Corp., mostly in Software Engineering management. I was born in Cincinnati (a Reds fan) but moved here (Newton) when I was about 7 and quickly became both a Braves and Red Sox fan. Both of my parents were active in non-profits. They became friends with Joanne’s parents so she and I met when we were 7 and 5. Joanne and I were married in 1960, raised our children in Wayland and now live in Lexington. My hobbies have always included carpentry and repairing things around the house so it was natural for me to take on the role of volunteer property manager at the REACH shelter. I am also an avid biker now.
2. How did you get involved at REACH?
Joanne: In 1996, working part time and anticipating retirement, I took the volunteer training offered by REACH, and volunteered on the hotline and at the shelter. It was a wonderful opportunity to get to know the challenges faced by other women and families, meet the staff, and begin to understand the role that REACH (then Support Committee for Battered Women) played in their lives. In 2000, I was asked to join the board, and a month later became board president.
Bill: Joanne was a volunteer and Board member back in 2003 when REACH decided to buy a house for a shelter (rather than continuing to rent). So I got involved during the house hunting process. In all I’ve been a volunteer for REACH for about 10 years.
3. What are some of the roles you’ve held or projects you’ve worked on over the years?
Joanne: Serving on REACH’s board has been a great honor. Over the past decade, the board has been transformed from a grass roots committee to a board of committed professionals who, with Laura Van Zandt as Executive Director, Chris Konys as board president, and an amazing staff, have helped to shape REACH as a leader in the Massachusetts domestic violence community. In addition to being board president, I have served on the board’s Nominating Committee, the Development Committee (overseeing the Capital Campaign and the launching of the Reach for the Stars gala), and in other board roles.
Bill: I’ve had the role of property manager…fixing things around the houses (from unclogging toilets to building a new room, helping to hire vendors, mowing the lawn, weeding,…anything related to the facility). In addition, for 3 years now I’ve helped bring donated gifts to the Holiday party and distribute them the day after. I also help do some repairs at the office and contribute to set up for the gala in the fall. The job I enjoyed the most was being a liaison between REACH and the contractor during the design and construction of the new shelter. I was on-site almost every weekday for a year and was involved in many decisions regarding the layout and usage of the facility.
4. What do you like most about volunteering with REACH?
Bill: REACH’s mission is a critical one and I feel my volunteering makes a difference in saving money, staff time and especially helping to make the guests more comfortable during their time at the shelter. I have gotten to know many of them and their stories over the years and am proud of doing my share to help them recover and move on in their lives. I enjoy playing with the children at the shelter from time to time. I feel spending time with them, even if minimal, provides them a positive experience with a male role model that they might not otherwise get during their stay. Seeing the survivors who have been at the shelter again at the Holiday party and as I drive gifts around, helps me see the improvement in their lives but at the same time, take note of how long it takes for this to happen. The survivors who go on to get jobs and manage their lives and those of their children are a true inspiration for me.
Joanne: REACH has become a family passion and provides perspective and satisfaction. Not only does REACH’s mission resonate with me, but I feel enriched and energized by my board colleagues and the staff, who have become friends as well. I talk about REACH a great deal– probably to the annoyance of others in my life – but that role of ambassador is key, I think, to volunteerism: drafting donors, volunteers, and friends. No one escapes – from family, friends, and even my knitting group pals!
5. What would you tell someone who is thinking about volunteering with REACH but not sure if they should get involved?
Bill: There are many different volunteer roles available at REACH and the effort, no matter how much, can be extremely gratifying and rewarding. Those of us who go to the monthly joint staff/volunteer meetings are able to get a great deal of insight into the complexity and challenges that many of the survivors face and how professional the staff is in dealing with the issues that arise. My volunteer work is a major part of my life. I have met many amazing people – staff, volunteers, guests, board members and others who are truly inspiring. I’m sure that most people want useful and rewarding activities in their lives and especially during retirement. REACH has provided that for me.
Joanne: Volunteer roles at REACH – and elsewhere – are diverse and plentiful. Sometimes it may take time to find the right fit – whether direct service, a board role, event planning, property management or others. What works for one person and a specific time varies for others. REACH provides many different roles for volunteers. In a smaller organization like this, one person can have great impact whether through the donation of time, expertise, resources or comfort. The benefits are enormous.
If you’re interested in becoming a REACH volunteer, click here for more information.