Q&A: Kathy Weinberg-Kinsey reflects on the unique impact of ‘fantastic volunteers’

FacebookLinkedInTwitterKathy Weinberg-Kinsey has been our Volunteer Manager since 2011. For our hundreds of volunteers, Kathy is usually the primary person they connect on anything from scheduling to inspiring classroom anecdotes. As part of Volunteer Appreciation Month, our staff asked Kathy questions on how the volunteer experience has developed in her time here, one that is marked by a sizable expansion in programming, school partners and student impact.

Do you have any idea the number of volunteers you’ve matched in programs over your time here? And how many students that equates to?

I ran a report to answer this question and I almost teared up when I saw the results. I have had the good fortune of matching 718 volunteers, to 2,285 classes of teens, at 181 schools and community based organizations. Impacting almost 40,000 students is humbling.

Of course, I am not the one making the impact. It is our fantastic volunteers who reach each one of those students, helping them have a chance for a better future.

What makes our volunteers unique? Who are they, where do they work, and what about our mission resonates with them?

What makes our volunteers unique is their motivation, initiative and independence. Let me give you an example. We recently had a Money Sense program at Horlick High School in Racine come up with three-week’s notice. I reached out to area volunteers and Tri City National Bank volunteer Tiffany Cacciotti responded. I asked her if she could spread the word with colleagues and within a few hours she had taken initiative and prospective volunteers were contacting me with motivation to carry out our mission. New Tri City National Bank volunteers Shirley Yanasak and James Hauser came on board, took initiative to complete training, and were in the classroom along with Tiffany two weeks later.

All of that happens without any face to face contact from our staff with volunteers motivated to take initiative and independently following through. Seventy five Horlick High School students are now out in our community, more financially literate and able to make better decisions because of that. We have great volunteers!

Can you recall the first volunteer you connected with a program?

I was hired in July of 2011 and I can still remember matching my first volunteer to a high school classroom. It was Hilary Schroeder (previously WaterStone Bank, now working at Fiserv) and the school was Centro Hispano High School. This school has since closed but I must have made a good match because Hilary came back to present a second program later that school year. I also remember visiting my first program seeing Fay Berry (JF & Associates) share her expertise with teens in the summer YES program. That program is still making its magic with minority teens who are considering careers in accounting. I’ll never forget Fay telling me what a pleasure it was for her to impact teens in that program, as she would often see teens out and about in the community and they would remember her and say hello.

When you think of our annual “Difference Maker” winners, what comes to mind?

Love! I am so honored to have these people in our team of volunteers. Each one has the heart, commitment, and dedication to impact our teens in powerful ways. Each one truly cares about our students. Did you know that every Difference Maker continues to volunteer year after year? They all have found a niche that provides them an ongoing sense of reward.

Jim Neubauer and Stacy Leuty, are every willing to say yes to programs that expand our reach. (Stacy and Kathy are pictured above from the 2014 Volunteer Appreciation Event.) Cecil Jackson has a special place in his heart for any of our programs that serve adjudicated teens. Karyn Conklin has become the mainstay volunteer at Connects Learning Center. Tom Parks and Tabatha De Leon are two of my go-to volunteers for classrooms with Hispanic students. (Tabatha also makes a big impact as a Money Coach, as seen in the picture at right with Taleavia, a former teen participant at PEARLS for Teen Girls.) Barbara McNulty continues to be the most active volunteer in her neck of the woods in Racine. I have the upmost respect for each and every one of them and of course there are many more volunteers in line for being recognized for their impactful contributions.

How have volunteers helped shape our curriculum over the years?

Anyone who has attended a training session has heard me say, “We are an input driven organization.” That statement now rolls off my tongue with ease. However, it comes directly from our President and CEO, Brenda Campbell. We rely on our volunteers to tell us what works in the classroom. I can’t thank volunteers enough for taking time to complete a post program volunteer evaluation, which is where we derive much of that input.

How would you describe companies that allow their employees to volunteer to teach our lessons?

Generous! I couldn’t believe there were so many wonderful companies that not only allowed volunteer work during business hours but encourage it. Add to that, some offer their employees the benefit of a matching donation if they offer financial support.

What would you like to see in the future with regard to volunteers? Where do you see us going/accomplishing?

We share financial education with more students through more volunteers in more places and with more programs and lessons every year. I am so grateful to each and every one of our volunteers who helps us do that!

Interested in volunteering? Read more about the experience and sign up here.

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