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Help Somebody Spotlight: Michelle Smith, World Pediatric Project

At the Community Foundation and ConnectVA, we are so excited to share more stories of individuals in our community lending a hand to help another through the Help Somebody Hall of Fame.  As in 2017, we are accepting nominations from the community at large and will highlight a compelling submission each month.  Once a quarter, we will select (at random) two people to receive a $1000 grant made in their name to give to a local nonprofit of their choosing.

This month we are highlighting Michelle Smith, a volunteer at World Pediatric Project.   World Pediatric Project (WPP) heals critically ill children and builds indigenous healthcare capacity in developing nations. Michelle was nominated anonymously by a WPP staff member, who says, Michelle is “one in a million” and wanted to thank her for her service.  Here’s more about Michelle’s incredible contributions to this local nonprofit and our community:

 

 How does Michelle demonstrate the spirit of the “Help Somebody Hall of Fame”?

Michelle is a volunteer for our organization and selflessly gives her time as though she were a full-time employee. If she is welcoming a new patient at the airport she will stay and wait for them even if their flight is delayed, or, if it starts snowing!

Michelle not only selflessly gives her time, she also gives her heart to the families we serve through her good humor and her friendly and open demeanor. Our families arrive from other countries scared and unsure. Michelle instantly makes them feel at ease. She warms them with her smile and interacts with their child as if they were her own – to the point she has been made a godmother many times over. If she knows a child is going to be having a birthday during their stay here, she will bring them to her house and throw a party. Similarly, she makes sure every child has a chance to experience Sweet Frog and other American wonders, like Walmart and Dollar Tree. No task is too big or too small for Michelle.

 

What is the impact of Michelle’s generosity?

Michelle’s impact goes beyond words and is further multiplied by the number of families she has touched. Michelle meets and assists with almost every single family for whom we facilitate surgical care in a year; that’s close to 50 children a year since 2010.

When she traveled to the Caribbean island of St. Vincent last year (where most of our patients are from) the patient families threw a party for her attending by at least 60 former patients with whom she had connected. Her kindness in some of their darkest moments with a child suffering from a major medical problem is not something they ever forget and something for which they continue to show gratitude and keep in touch with her over.

Michelle in St. Vincent at a party the families put on for her. There were about 50 families in attendance whose lives she had touched.

Michelle not only serves our organization selflessly, but does so in the rest of her life as well. When she met a young woman studying to be a doctor while traveling abroad, she invited her to live in her home for six months to learn English. She is the first one to take in any stray animal needing of a home. She also faithfully served the public school system for over 20 years as an art teacher. Michelle demonstrates her love and compassion for others in everything that she does.

We have a list of close to 400 volunteers, and Michelle’s dedication is unparalleled. She is the first to offer help and the last to go home at the end of the day. Our patients have needs 365 days a year, 24 hours a day. Michelle doesn’t shy away from late nights or early mornings, but rather always asks me “what can I do to help?” Our program would not be the same without her.

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Help Somebody Spotlight: Sara Fender, The Caring Clothes Closet

We are honored to have received (and are still receiving!) so many incredible nominations for the Help Somebody Hall of Fame. This week we are highlighting the work of Sara Fender, a passionate volunteer with a desire to make a difference and a great idea to fill a need she saw in the community. The person who nominated Sara, and wishes to remain anonymous, says that Sara is a true inspiration and leader. Read more about Sara’s story in October’s “Help Somebody Spotlight”:

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Help Somebody Spotlight: Allen Earehart, Volunteer, Goochland Free Clinic and Family Services

ConnectVA and The Community Foundation are excited to share another shining example of a great person doing great work in our community, through the Help Somebody Hall of Fame – meet, Allen Earehart, active volunteer and board member for Goochland Free Clinic and Family Services (GFCFS) ! Diane Reale, Director of Volunteer Resources for GFCFS, reached out to us to share more about the firm commitment and incredible impact Allen has in the Goochland community.

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Help Somebody Spotlight: Susan DeFazio, Founder and Director, Prevent A Litter

ConnectVA and The Community Foundation are excited to share another shining example of a great person doing great work in our community, through the Help Somebody Hall of Fame – meet, Susan DeFazio, Founder and Director of Prevent A Litter (P.A.L.)!

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Help Somebody Spotlight: Keri Treadway, Teacher, Richmond Public Schools

Keri is a first-grade teacher at Fox Elementary and has been with Richmond Public Schools for 14 years. Her dedication to her students and her city extends far beyond her day job, however.  She shows up, she organizes, she donates, she solicits support from local businesses, all in the name of the children she cares so deeply about.  Keri is a co-founder and organizer behind the “Support Richmond Public Schools” movement as well as “Building a Better RPS“.

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The Help Somebody Hall of Fame

NOMINATE SOMEONE WHO HELPS Have you witnessed someone selflessly going out of their way to improve the life of another?  Do you seek a simple way to recognize and commend them for their benevolence?  The Help Somebody Hall of Fame is a platform to express your gratitude for this person and share stories that may inspire others to act with generosity. A nonprofit organization could also receive $1000 in honor of the person you nominate (see below).

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Help Somebody Spotlight: Jocelyn Marencik, Founder, Got Tec! Richmond

We are honored to have received (and are still receiving!) so many incredible nominations for the Help Somebody Hall of Fame.  This week we are highlighting the work of a Sophomore Student from Deep Run High School – Jocelyn Marencik.  Jocelyn founded the initiative “Got Tec! Richmond” whose mission is to deliver needed technology equipment to underserved schools, teachers, and students in the Richmond area.  She was nominated by her proud father, Don.

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Help Somebody Spotlight: Robbie Schureman, Volunteer, Virginia Dental Association Foundation

We are excited to share another Help Somebody Spotlight – Robbie Schureman! The Help Somebody Hall of Fame is a platform to express gratitude for a person in the community who acts selflessly to improve the lives of others. We want to share these stories in hope of inspiring more people in Greater Richmond to act with generosity. There will be random drawing each quarter from those who are honored, and two honorees will select a nonprofit of their choice to receive $1000. Read more about how to nominate someone here. Robbie is a dedicated volunteer and Board Vice President at the Virginia Dental Association Foundation (VADF), but, as the person who nominated him (who asked to be anonymous) says, “Robbie is one of the most committed volunteers and advocates that the VDAF and its Mission of Mercy (MOM) program has ever had, always keeping his "MOM hat" on and an eye open for opportunities to further support the program. He is also one of the most down-to-earth, genuine folks you'll ever meet!”

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Help Somebody Hall of Fame: Patricia Taylor, CNA, Family Lifeline

As we continue to share stories and examples of great work in our community, through the Help Somebody Hall of Fame, we wanted to spotlight another unsung hero working in the nonprofit sector. Often, the individuals working on the front line – with clients and hard to serve populations aren’t recognized for their tireless efforts to make a difference. Jennifer Case, Program Manager for Family Lifeline’s Home Care Program reached out to ConnectVA and The Community Foundation to share more about her colleague, Pat Taylor – a Certified Nursing Assistant who is known for her can-do attitude, unwavering dedication to her patients, and attention to detail with care. Here’s more about Pat and how she is making an impact throughout Greater Richmond:

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Help Somebody Hall of Fame: Albert Negrin

ConnectVA and The Community Foundation are excited to share another shining example of a great person doing great work in our community, through the Help Somebody Hall of Fame – meet, Albert Negrin! Samantha Mier, Community Engagement Manager with the Cameron K. Gallagher Foundation, reached out to us to share what a valuable person Albert is to their organization, as well as many other organizations supporting children. She told us, “Albert is a caring, hardworking volunteer. He puts his heart and soul into every organization he works to improve and benefit.” Here’s more about Albert and his impact:

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