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Jun 16, 201711:50 AMCity Beat

Volunteer of the Month

Jun 16, 2017 - 11:50 AM
Volunteer of the Month

Co-Volunteer of the Month, June 2017

Brayden Stroup, volunteer for Caitlin's Smiles

 

Tell us about your volunteering.

I started when I was 2 years old, decorating cards with stickers and markers with my Nana. When I was about 4, I would also go to Caitlin's Smiles' office and stock Play-Doh on shelves. Now, at 7, I also help make the bags of smiles, put things in the bag and mark labels.

 

Why do you volunteer? What do you get out of it?

I like helping people and working with others.

 

Describe the feeling you get from volunteering.

I feel real good when I know I'm helping others.

 

Of all the charitable organizations out there, what is it about Caitlin's Smiles that compels you to volunteer?

I'm a child and like to smile, and Caitlin's Smiles helps put smiles on children's faces.

 

What would you say to others to encourage them to volunteer at Caitlin's Smiles, as well as any other charity in the area?

It's a great place to volunteer. There are things that everyone can do. All charities can use lots of volunteers. Volunteering lets you meet a lot of nice people.

 

If you had the power to instantly change one thing in the world, what would it be and why?

Make all people good. It's not goosed to be bad.

 

Where and with whom do find inspiration?

With my Nana, volunteering at Caitlin's Smiles and at Greenfield Adult Day Care and Assisted Living helping with bingo through Telephone Pioneers. I like taking the cart with the prizes on to the winners.

 

Name one person you would like to have lunch with and why.

Derrick Morgan on Criminal Minds because he almost always catches the bad guys.

 

Tell us about your fellow volunteers at Caitlin's Smiles.

I like to help my Nana and the owner, Cheryl Hornung.

 

What is the single most important moment of charity you have ever been part of or witnessed?

When all the people came for a craft day at Caitlin's Smiles, and I was there to help. They got a lot of work done, and I was there to help.

 

 

Co-Volunteer of the Month, June 2017

Carol Koppenhaver, volunteer for Caitlin's Smiles

 

Tell us about your volunteering.

I began volunteering at Caitlin’s Smiles in 2008 when, as a legal secretary, my boss asked me to complete the Caitlin’s Smiles application for charitable status.  After reading the mission statement, “To bring smiles to hospitalized children through arts and craft activities,” this wonderful organization caught my attention.  I started by volunteering at a few of their evening craft nights, and when I retired at the end of 2009, I started volunteering several hours several days each week and really enjoyed the variety of things to do there, including: making Bags of Smiles containing a variety of arts and crafts supplies; assembling craft kits for the Bags of Smiles; compiling statistics for all the hospital deliveries; packing the hospital orders; and Making gift baskets for our silent auction fundraisers. Over the years, I have also staffed booths at volunteer fairs, helped to organize and run fundraisers, and make deliveries to a number of the hospitals.  I also found a way to keep in touch with my former co-workers by hosting a monthly dinner and craft night in my home where we can enjoy each other’s company and also assemble craft kits for Caitlin’s Smiles.

 

Why do you volunteer? What do you get out of it?

I was born and raised on a farm where there was always something to keep us busy.  I knew when I retired that I wanted to find something meaningful to do with my newfound free time.  Caitlin’s Smiles was a perfect fit.

 

Describe the feeling you get from volunteering.

I get a good feeling whenever I go to volunteer just knowing that we are helping children in hospitals cope with their illnesses and take their minds off the pain and problems they are facing. All you have to do is read the thank you notes we receive from the children who have gotten a Bag of Smiles to know your volunteer time has been very appreciated.  Also, I’ve met so many nice people there and enjoy the camaraderie it offers. 

 

Of all the charitable organizations out there, what is it about Caitlin's Smiles that compels you to volunteer?

There are so many charitable organizations out there with a variety of opportunities.   When you decide to volunteer, I think it is very important to find something that you enjoy.  I always enjoyed doing crafts with my mother and my daughter, so I found Caitlin’s Smiles a welcome place to continue doing something I enjoy and also helping others.

 

What would you say to others to encourage them to volunteer at Caitlin's Smiles, as well as any other charity in the area?

I would say that you may not think that a few hours of time spent volunteering makes a difference, but hundreds of people giving just a few hours of their time can accomplish much more than you can ever imagine.  At Caitlin’s Smiles, we are happy to have any amount of time you are willing to give, and I am sure other charities in the area would welcome any amount of time you can spare.

 

If you had the power to instantly change one thing in the world, what would it be and why?

The focus on negativity projected by the television news services. There is so much good happening in our area, the country and the world, but the focus is always on the negative news stories.  It would be so refreshing to hear more about acts of kindness that are happening all around us and less about the disgruntled people out there making a big scene.

 

Where and with whom do you find inspiration?

Caitlin’s Smiles founder Cheryl Hornung is one of the most inspirational persons I know.  After losing her daughter, Caitlin, to a battle with brain cancer, Cheryl channeled her heartbreak into a positive endeavor that eventually became Caitlin’s Smiles.  She is one of the most hard-working, caring, compassionate women I know.  She also makes the volunteers feel like we are all one big family.

 

Alive or dead, name one person you’d like to have lunch with and why?

I would have to say the one person I would like to have lunch with would be my dad.  He died unexpectedly, and I would love to be able to sit down with him and tell him all the things I never got a chance to tell him.

 

Tell us about your fellow volunteers at Caitlin's Smiles?

When I retired, one of the things I missed most was my friends and coworkers.  Volunteering at Caitlin’s Smiles has given me the opportunity to meet some of the nicest people and make a whole new group of friends.  Everyone pitches in and works very hard to make sure each month the more than 1,000 Bags of Smiles and thousands of extra craft kits and coping kits get out the door and into the hands of the hospitalized children in over 100 hospitals.

 

What is the single most important moment of charity you have ever been a part of or witnessed?

Once a year, supporters, friends and volunteers of Caitlin’s Smiles gather for an art auction fundraiser called “A Night of Smiles” at the Radisson Hotel in Camp Hill.  The silent auction features artwork, fine crafts and amazing gift baskets.  However, the highlight of the evening is the live auction featuring pictures created by children who have received Bags of Smiles while in the hospital.  These children and their families are invited to the event.  It is one of the most heartwarming scenes I have ever witnessed to see them carry or wheel their paintings around the room as they are being auctioned off.  It is truly a night filled with smiles, laughter and also some tears.

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