Liz Desio explains how her work as a volunteer for Volunteers of America Chesapeake has changed her life. She’s team captain for Volunteers of America Chesapeake’s Action Team, which grooms high school students in volunteerism.
My experience as the Volunteers of America Action Team Captain was the first step in a lifelong care and commitment to nonprofit work.
After high school, I served on the executive boards of the University of Virginia’s Habitat for Humanity and Liberty in North Korea organizations. I also dedicated 2 of my spring breaks to building Habitat houses in Kentucky and North Carolina. During my college summers, I began interning for nonprofit organizations that specialized in art education: Move This World, which was a dance programming nonprofit, and Words Beats & Life, a D.C. hip-hop education nonprofit.
After I graduated from UVA and found myself in Brooklyn, New York, I began serving on the Junior Board for a poetry and soccer education nonprofit, America SCORES. My involvement led me to run my first marathon, raising over $2,000 for the organization. This fall, I even taught a poetry class through the organization to 4th and 5th grade boys in Harlem, and I plan to stay with my class through the spring.
The Volunteers of America Action Team taught me the value of this sort of work. What it’s like to wake up before the sun to work at the food bank, and how to drag all of your friends with you to school at 6am to make sandwiches for the homeless. I learned that I not only enjoy nonprofit work–but being in a leadership role, and building community activism through personal relationships with others.
I have never liked the word “charity”–for me, it’s more about building a connection to the place you live and caring for the people you work for, and having pride in what you’ve done to help them. No matter how much you have, you can prioritize that responsibility, and make amazing things happen.
– Liz Desio, Volunteers of America Chesapeake Action Team Captain