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IDEAS’ Ideas About Volunteering at Coalition for the Homeless

IDEAS’ Ideas About Volunteering at Coalition for the Homeless

This blog was originally written for the Coalition for the Homeless of Central Florida website. Click HERE to read the blog from their site.

IDEAS is an Orlando-based innovation studio specializing in creative entertainment, learning, and marketing. IDEAS often serves dinner at Coalition for the Homeless’ Women’s Residential and Counseling Center. Shirley Decker, EVP, Business Development, was kind enough to share her thoughts on the team’s experiences. Thanks IDEAS Orlando!

It starts with an email to all the staff from Charles Moore – he shares the date that we will, once again, have the opportunity to work with the staff at the Women’s Residential and Counseling Center (WRCC). The response varies each time we decide to host dinner for all the women and children currently residing at the WRCC. Some of the staff opt for contributing financially and others like to actually serve – then of course, there are those team members who do both. For the core of our team it is something we look forward too, because each visit is as unique as the menu we select.

We have the “specialists” who do the shopping, also those who are best at prepping the meal once we arrive, and of course, those who are skilled servers because they have a smile and good word to share. You can’t forget the social butterflies who volunteer to deliver trays to the dining room for the moms who have more little hands to hold on to than they can handle along with food – a real balancing act. That is really the primo position – that’s where you learn the stories and have a chance to interact with the kids. We’ve learned over the many times of serving, that a hot meal and a dessert is a really big hit. In the past we also added to the evening by preparing sandwiches for the next day that went into lunches for moms and kids. This time there was good supply so it was just the evening meal.

A few weeks earlier, Caroline Masse had an idea to celebrate National Pie Day by having us of all bake pies – but the best part was to bake two pies – one for judging and to share with the staff and one to take to the WRCC for the families to enjoy – that was great fun!

One of our newest interns decided to join us a few weeks ago – the experience was so moving for her that she is going to organize her study group at college to have them participate in the future. This is the reaction that comes from volunteering in your community – a sense of well-being, knowing that you are doing something for someone else that is truly is appreciated, as well as becoming aware of other people’s situations, no matter how it came about and that you can continue to do something that makes a difference. It is also a wonderful bonding agent for the group in working together as a unit to complete a goal.

I’m proud of the team I work with – not everyone is the “spark plug” with the ideas to motivate but most people will follow for a good reason.  Thank you, WRCC, for letting us be part of your lives!

Shirley Decker
Drawing on over 25+ years of experience in the hospitality industry as a certified hotel sales executive and several years as a Disney executive, Shirley is responsible for directing business development at IDEAS.