One of the hallmarks of Lighthouse Guild is its commitment to connecting the right people, partners, and programs. Sharing that commitment is Jennifer Heinrich, who has been actively involved in the Volunteer Resources Department for about two years. According to Cheryl Pemberton-Graves, the head of that group, “In a relatively short time, Jen has volunteered almost 1,200 hours. That’s impressive in and of itself, but even more impressive are the connections she has made and the amazing programs she has created for Lighthouse Guild clients, corporate citizenship programs, and volunteers.”
This has included working with Lighthouse Guild program directors to come up with ideas for events and then budgeting for them, organizing them, staffing them, and following up after the events. Perhaps the most important aspect of Jen’s role has been recruiting partners to participate in special events. To this end, one of Jen’s most interesting—and challenging—accomplishments was creating a master list of corporate and foundation donors that might be interested in joining forces with Lighthouse Guild. Her initial list included some 200 prospects, and the response to her outreach to these contacts yielded willing volunteers at AIG, JPMorgan Chase, Nielsen, Oracle, and Weil Gotshal, among others.
In one example of the special events Jen developed with a corporate sponsor, Weil Gotshal lawyers and support staff organized a “Day of Wellness” during which volunteers from two cosmetology schools gave makeovers to 70 seniors who participate in Guild Care, Lighthouse Guild’s Adult Day Health Care program. Jen even helped the Communications Department secure coverage of the “Day of Wellness” on Fox News. Another typical event was “Woman’s Day,” which included games, poetry readings, and other activities for seniors. “The best part was when the seniors sang to us to show their appreciation,” Jen says. “That was incredibly moving and rewarding.”
Especially rewarding are the relationships Jen has developed with GuildCare seniors. “They are so upbeat and engaged. We keep each other motivated. Each event generates enthusiasm for future activities. After every event we say, ‘Can’t wait for the next one—what should we do next?’”
Jen began volunteering with Lighthouse Guild while recovering from an illness that precluded full-time employment. She says she became so excited about her volunteer work, however, that “I actually took it on as a job, working several hours a day three days a week with Cheryl and her team. I’ve loved it so much, I put off looking for regular employment even after I was well enough to do so.” Jen recently started a new job as an event manager at Nuveen, the global investment management firm. She credits the experience and knowledge she gained at Lighthouse Guild in equipping her for this role. “Before I began volunteering at Lighthouse Guild, I didn’t know about the philanthropic and Corporate Social Responsibility programs many organizations have. Because of my volunteer work, I’ve gained an inside look at how such CSR programs work, and this will serve me well in my new role.”
Although it’s challenging to begin a new job, Jen says she is eager to stay involved with Lighthouse Guild. “In my opinion,” she says, “everyone should volunteer with an organization they believe in. It’s really gratifying.”