Tell us about yourself
My name is Kathy Perun, and I am honored to serve as the Director of Community Engagement at St. Joseph’s Villa. I have over 25 years of experience in volunteer engagement and human resources management. For the past four years I have been engaging the community with programs at the Villa that change the lives of children and their families. In addition, I teach nonprofit classes through The Community Foundation. I love teaching and coaching others that have a passion for volunteers and the nonprofit community. Since 2003, I have been Certified in Volunteer Administration (CVA) through the Council for Certification in Volunteer Administration (CCVA) credentialing program. I am a long-standing member of the Greater Richmond Association for Volunteer Administration (GRAVA) and past-president of the board of directors.
What is the focus of your work, the need you are addressing?
Effective engagement of volunteer talents, skills and passions are essential to the Villa and our clients. I build organizational capacity through employee and volunteer collaboration and the development of high-impact, meaningful volunteer opportunities to support our mission, values, and guiding principles. I enjoy working with individuals as well as corporations and community organizations that are committed to making a difference. Through the volunteer-run Donation Center, in-kind donations go straight to Villa children and families in need at no cost to them. We welcome clean and usable clothing, housewares, linens, toiletries, school and office supplies, and new toys and games.
What do you find most rewarding about your work?
Volunteers are a cornerstone of the growth and success that our children experience at the Villa every day. I enjoy creating strong connections and seeing our clients, volunteers and partnerships grow and flourish. Richmond has an amazing and giving community. Through our Back to School, Season of Hope and Easter donation drives, the community is providing basic needs for our clients. I love knowing that each child has the school supplies they need for a successful school year and that we are able to provide warm clothing and gifts for children who otherwise might not receive anything during the holiday season.
What’s one misconception the public has about your organization OR what would someone be surprised to know about your organization?
People new to the Villa tell me that they drive by our campus and wonder what we do. Many think we are still an orphanage or associated with the church. St. Joseph’s Villa has grown and evolved to meet the prevailing needs of the community, and today is a non-sectarian organization serving children and families facing mental illness, homelessness, autism, specialized education needs and other challenges. We operate 20 integrated programs both on our campus and in the community to help people reach their potential and live full, independent lives. St. Joseph’s Villa is the longest-serving nonprofit for children in the country, open 24/7 for the last 183 years thanks to the generosity of our community.
Do you have any interesting initiatives or programs on the horizon?
The Villa’s Center for Autism is one of our largest and fastest growing programs. We have plans to redevelop our Dooley School building as a future state-of-the-art Center for Autism, which will present an amazing opportunity to deliver best-practice services and attract new community partners and experts in autism to the Greater Richmond region. The building will be customized to create an environment that meets our students’ sensory needs, and will increase our capacity to serve as many as 100 students with autism each year.
We are also excited to partner with the McShin Foundation to open Virginia’s first recovery high school, McShin Academy, on our campus. McShin Academy is designed to help students recover from substance use disorder while continuing their education in a small and nurturing environment. It will operate in its own building where students will receive guidance from McShin’s peer recovery coaches and education services from St. Joseph’s Villa. Please contact our Admissions Office for more details at 804-553-3241.
Are you and/or your organization involved in any exciting collaborations or partnerships?
This is an exciting time of the year as hundreds of elves from all over the community, especially Capital One, come together for the Villa Season of Hope holiday program. Volunteers create a magical holiday season for our children while providing essential needs.
How are you leveraging ConnectVA/The Community Foundation to achieve your mission?
ConnectVA is a key resource for the Villa in promoting special events that support our homeless and developmental disabilities programs, as well as recruiting for our family of over 270 staff. The daily update emails are invaluable for raising our awareness of the good work others are doing in our community and thereby opportunities for partnership.
Anything else you would like to share?
As the holiday season approaches, we are reminded of how grateful we are for the support we receive from our community. Please join us in our Season of Hope holiday program and help Villa families in need this season. Each Villa client submits a wish list specifying clothing needs, outerwear requirements, and two individualized “special” wishes. Consider being a sponsor and help the Villa provide warm clothing and gifts for these clients who otherwise might not receive anything during the holiday season. Another fun way to contribute is by getting together with with family, friends, or co-workers to coordinate a collection drive for new toys and games, arts and crafts, children’s books, coats and boots, non-perishable foods, household items or toiletries.
Volunteers enjoy meaningful and impactful projects with our Learning and Therapy Garden, Donation Center, mentoring programs and donation drives. The Villa has a wide variety of volunteer opportunities available, and we welcome your time and talents. If you’re interested in becoming involved, please contact me at 804-521-5577 or firstname.lastname@example.org.