Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Dallas Resident Wins GCP's Volunteer Recognition Contest

By Shannon Prudhomme
Contributor, Gulf Coast Philanthropy

Volunteer Recognition Award Winner Nina Charles flexes
her volunteer muscles at the North Texas Food Bank.
Dallas area resident Nina Charles was painting the face of a young girl one weekend while volunteering to paint faces at a local charity event with Rainbow Day, a local child development organization. As Nina used her paintbrush to create a colorful creation on a young girl’s face, they began to discuss her interests and school experience.

“She proceeded to tell me that Obama was the 44th president,” Nina said as she described the scenario, “and I said ‘did you know that YOU could be president one day?’"

With an astonished look on her face, the child replied stating that she never thought of being president as a possibility for her life. “She gave me the most heartfelt smile as if I just instilled a deep belief in her heart.”

Moments like this, Nina said, are what motivate her donate her time to various organizations in the Dallas area both independently and through one of her company employee volunteer initiatives, Citigroup’s Global Community Day.

“Those are the experiences I want to share with others and hopefully it touches someone or many to want to do the same,” she said.

These extensive volunteer experiences, which consist of long-term volunteer commitments to food service organizations and health-related fundraisers, are the reasons she was chosen to receive the Volunteer Recognition Award from Gulf Coast Philanthropy. Nina’s prize included an $100 Amazon.com gift card and $50 donated to the charity of her choice, which she elected to contribute to the North Texas Food Bank (NTFB). Applicants for the award were asked to respond to two questions detailing their volunteer efforts in Louisiana, Texas, Mississippi, Alabama and/or Florida.

The active community volunteer said she learned about the organization's work through her employer's corporate employee volunteer program. 

“Every year, Citigroup holds Global Community Day to which they partner with various charities, have employees sign up to volunteer and donate to each organization,” she said. “Over a year ago a co-worker asked me to accompany them for Global Community Day at the North Texas Food Bank.”

Nina poses with a colleague during one
of Citigroup's employee volunteer days.
That experience, combined with her own personal research on her community most pressing needs, solidified her commitment to volunteering with the North Houston Food Bank and Meals on Wheels.

“It was an eye opener,” she said. “Before then, I hadn’t realized the hunger crisis that was going on in the community and how many children went without meals each day.”

She now alternates volunteering twice monthly for each organization, and has adhered to her commitment for more than a year. In addition to her focus on ensuring families have nutritious meals, Nina supports the annual fundraising efforts for Susan G Komen Race for the Cure and March of Dimes.

Nina shares the wealth of her experiences by recruiting friends and young people in her community to volunteer their time as well. “It warms my heart when I receive messages about people who notice what I am doing and want to join in or want more information on the organizations, especially the youth,” she said.

Nina emphasized the invaluable sense of purpose and impact one can have simply by contributing one of life’s most precious resources: time.

“If all of us committed a minimum of our time to helping out others I truly believe it would make a huge difference across the world,” she said. “There is a great need for volunteers and volunteering helps you to see your life in different ways.”