Volunteer Spotlight

The St. Monica Academy School Board recognizes that so many opf the events that are run through our school and parish are suvvessful because of those who volunteer their time to make them happen.  Each month, the School Board would like to shine a spotlight on randomly selected volunteer, to share their story and spread the message that volunteering is done by all of us in many ways!!!
Friday
Aug012014

AUGUST’S VOLUNTEER SPOTLIGHT IS ON ANNE & ERWIN HADERSPECK

The St. Monica Academy School Board recognizes that so many of the events that are run through our school and our parish are successful because of those who volunteer their time to make them happen.  Each month, the School Board will shine a spotlight on a randomly selected volunteer to share their story and spread the message that volunteering is done by all of us in many ways!

August’s Volunteer Spotlight is on Anne & Erwin Haderspeck

August's Volunteer Spotlight is on Anne & Erwin HaderspeckAnne & Erwin Haderspeck have been St. Monica parents and parishioners for over 20 years!  They’ve both been active in the school and parish, with Anne serving as a Hospitality Representative, an Art Aide and a Lunch Parent and Erwin serving as a Den Leader for Cub Scouts, just finishing up a term on the Athletic Board and helping our wherever needed as a handyman.  Plus, they’ve always been willing to lend a hand with fundraisers or wherever else they’ve been needed.

We recently reached out to Anne and Erwin to learn more about them and how they incorporate volunteering into their busy schedules.

VS:  Hi, Anne and Erwin! Thanks so much for agreeing to be our August Volunteer Spotlight!  And thank you for taking the time to share your combined story!  We love that we get to spotlight a team this month!!  No person at St. Monica volunteers alone, particularly when there are kids at home involved and we’re so happy to delve into your dual volunteering story.   Can you tell us a little bit about yourself outside of volunteering at St. Monica’s?

Anne & Erwin:  Absolutely!  We are Anne & Erwin Haderspeck and we have been parishioners of St. Monica’s since 1988.  Our youngest child just graduated from 8th grade, so we’ve just finished up 20 years as SMA parents.  Throughout the years we’ve enjoyed helping out and being part of the team that helps make St. Monica’s such a great place for our kids to grow. 

VS:  20 years!  WOW!  That’s truly amazing!!  With two decades at SMA and even longer as parishioners, you must have seen it all when it comes to volunteering.  With that in mind, what’s your favorite part of volunteering at St. Monica’s?

Anne & Erwin:  Definitely helping the children and spending time with the wonderful families of our school. We have made many friends through volunteering.

VS:  It’s amazing how close you get to the families at this school, isn’t it!  It’s such an amazing indicator of just how many great people are part of the St. Monica’s community!  But over the past 20 years, there must have been times when it was harder than others to volunteer.  What’s the biggest challenge you face in volunteering?

Anne & Erwin:  The biggest challenge is fitting it into our schedules.  But it just became a part of our lives; one that we will miss now that our children have all graduated.

VS:  It is hard finding the time but it’s so worth it, especially when you think of all the memories you’re making!  So if you knew someone who was on the fence about volunteering, what would you say to them?

Anne & Erwin:  Volunteering is a great way to get involved and meet other parents at the school. Plus, there are so many opportunities to get involved that you're sure to find one that fits your interests. Through volunteering, you also forge a deeper interest in the school community and know you're working with others to help make the school a better place for your children. In addition, you're setting a great example for your children about the importance of helping others and giving back to your community.

VS: We couldn’t have said it better!  So tell us, what will you be volunteering at next? 

Anne & Erwin:  Although we've just finished our 20-year span at St. Monica School/Academy, we still plan to be involved parishioners and will likely be found at various parish functions in the future. We also plan on volunteering at our new school home, Notre Dame College Prep, but, of course, if we happen to get a call from St. Monica Academy, I'm sure we'll be there to help.

VS:  We know we’ll be seeing you around at various functions and we wish your family the best luck with all you’ll be doing at Notre Dame!  Thanks so much for taking the time to share your time, your talent and your story with us, Anne & Erwin!!

Tuesday
Jul012014

JULY'S VOLUNTEER SPOTLIGHT IS ON RICH LAVECCHIA

The St. Monica Academy School Board recognizes that so many of the events that are run through our school and our parish are successful because of those who volunteer their time to make them happen.  Each month, the School Board will shine a spotlight on a randomly selected volunteer to share their story and spread the message that volunteering is done by all of us in many ways!

June’s Volunteer Spotlight is on Rich LaVecchia

July's Volunteer Spotlight is on Rich LaVecchia

Rich LaVecchia is a St. Monica parent and parishioner with over 10 years of volunteering experience under his belt!  He’s active both within our parish, volunteering routinely during Mass and throughout the Parish, including as the Parish Council Vice President, as well as at SMA in a variety of positions.

We recently reached out to Rich to learn more about him and how he incorporates volunteering into him busy schedule.

VS:  Hi, Rich! Thanks so much for agreeing to be our June Volunteer Spotlight!  And thank you for taking the time to share your story!  We know how busy you are, and not just here at St. Monica’s!   Can you tell us a little bit about yourself outside of volunteering at St. Monica’s?

Rich:  Sure thing!  My name is Rich LaVecchia and my wife, Audrey, and I have been parishioners of St. Monica’s since 2004.  Our two boys – finishing in 6th and 4th grade – have attended St. Monica’s since preschool.   In addition, my three nephews, now in their 20s, attended St. Monica’s so before joining the parish we attended many St. Monica events.  

VS:  Wow!  What a fantastic family connection you guys have to the parish!  And with two growing boys, you guys must be busy!!  But from all you’re doing within the parish, it’s clear that volunteerism is an integral part of your family life.  Knowing, that, what’s your favorite part of volunteering at St. Monica’s?

Rich:  My favorite part of volunteering is simply  “getting involved.”  I think it is important for people to actively participate in our parish – both at Church and School.   Being part of a community means to become involved.  Being part of a community means that you should be looking for ways to help and serve.    Too many times people just want to sit “in the sidelines” and watch instead of “getting in the game.”   At St. Monica’s there are so many ways to participate.   And when I participate –regardless of volunteer opportunity - I feel I am helping to make a difference in building the community/family at St. Monica’s.

VS:  You’re right that sometimes folks aren’t comfortable jumping into the mix when it comes to volunteering.  And for others family and work commitments can seem like an insurmountable obstacle to pitching in.  What’s the biggest challenge you face in volunteering?

Rich:  The biggest challenge is probably wanting to do too much and learning that is okay to occasionally say “no.”   However, note that I said “occasionally” and not “usually.”   In cases where I can’t help,  I try to help identify those that can.   I think the best way to think about this, is to think of St. Monica as part of your extended family.   And if I can’t help, I try to recommend others that can.  

Let me give you an example, I love my parents very much, and do a lot for them but as they advance in age, I cannot be there for all their requests.   However, when I can’t help…..I call my brothers to see if they can assist my parents.   So even though I sometimes say “no,”  I still try to find others who can help them out.

VS:  It’s true that volunteering needs to be part of your life and not take over your life, still there are lots of ways to pitch in that can be incorporated into even the busiest person’s life.  And the enjoyment of being part of the team and making our community a fun, safe place for our kids definitely make it worth it!  So if you knew someone who was on the fence about volunteering, what would you say to them? 

Rich:  I would say three points:

  1. As the Nike commercial once stated, “Just Do It.”   Don’t think about it and just volunteer.   Many people, including myself, can find many ways to rationalize “ways/reasons to say no” if we try hard enough.   Instead of saying “no we should be looking for places/opportunities to say “yes”.   I am not a psychologist, but I feel many people short change themselves and their abilities and as a result say far too often:   “I can’t do that.”  My answer, would be simply “why not?”  
  2. It feels good when you volunteer and know you helped out and contributed in helping something/someone
  3. I would also say be aware.   Look for opportunities where you can best help both in official and unofficial ways
VS: All great suggestions, Rich!  So tell us, what will you be volunteering at next? 

Rich:  Hmmmm…….after answering the previous questions, I am anxious to volunteer for some more things.   I think some additional areas I will be volunteering in are to become more involved with……

  • Boy Scouts: maybe become an official “assistant leader”
  • Coaching 5th grade boys basketball
  • Bringing Holy Communion after Sunday Mass to the homebound / sick  
  • Perhaps helping teach CCD
  • Additional fundraisers…..I hear a “rumor” that St. Monica may be holding a Oktoberfest this year
  • Boy Scouts: maybe become an official “assistant leader”Coaching 5th grade boys basketballBringing Holy Communion after Sunday Mass to the homebound / sick  Perhaps helping teach CCDAdditional fundraisers…..I hear a “rumor” that St. Monica may be holding a Oktoberfest this year

…..the sky is the limit at St. Monica’s! 

VS:  Well said, Rich!! Good luck with all the projects you’ll be working on over the summer and into the next school year!  And thanks so much for sharing your story and your time with us, Rich!

Sunday
Apr272014

May's Volunteer Spotlight is on Jennifer Bronski

The St. Monica Academy School Board recognizes that so many of the events that are run through our school and our parish are successful because of those who volunteer their time to make them happen.  Each month, the School Board will shine a spotlight on a randomly selected volunteer to share their story and spread the message that volunteering is done by all of us in many ways!

May’s Volunteer Spotlight is on Jennifer Bronski

May's Volunteer Spotlight is on Jennifer BronskiJennifer Bronski is a St. Monica parent and parishioner with a family history in the parish that stretches back over 60 years!  She’s a Room Mom, Cookie Mom and Art Mom at SMA for her two daughters and has a son that will join the SMA Pre-K 3 class in the fall.

We recently reached out to Jennifer to learn more about her and how she incorporates volunteering into her busy schedule.

VS:  Hi, Jennifer! Thanks so much for agreeing to be our May Volunteer Spotlight!  And thank you for taking the time to share your story!  We know how busy you are, what with 3 kids under the age of 7!   Can you tell us a little bit about yourself outside of volunteering at St. Monica’s?

Jennifer:  Of course!  My name is Jennifer Bronski and as you said my family’s been a part of this parish for over 60 years.  My grandparents were parishioners and my father and his siblings attended the school here.  I even attended the school for a while with my brothers.  Now my husband, Nate, and I are so happy to have our two daughters, Grace who is a first grader and Hannah who is in Pre-K 4, attend SMA. In the fall our son Cole will also begin attending the Pre-K 3 Program. 

VS:  How amazing to have a life long connection to this fantastic community!  And how great for your kids to get to follow in your and your parents’ footsteps at St. Monica’s Academy!!  With all of that history, what’s your favorite part of volunteering at St. Monica’s?

Jennifer:  My favorite part of volunteering at SMA is being afforded the opportunity to get to know the students, staff and parents who make up this wonderful community. The more time I spend at school the more I realize how amazing and talented the staff is and how dedicated they are to ensuring that our children are successful and happy. This insider’s view has made me so proud to be a part of the SMA community. I also enjoy that many of the volunteer opportunities, such as helping in the lunchroom, are so flexible.

VS:  You mention the flexibility available in volunteering and it’s true, there are many times and ways to volunteer, which is critical as all of our lives are busy and have complicated schedules.  Still, finding the time to volunteer can be a challenge.  What’s the biggest challenge you face in volunteering?

Jennifer:  The biggest challenge I face at the time is finding childcare for my 2 year old when volunteer opportunities arise. However, the teachers of SMA are extremely understanding and often allow my son to join in the activity while I help out.

VS:  So many of us have shared that exact experience, Jennifer!  And you’re absolutely right, the teachers and staff at St. Monica’s are not just warm and welcoming but so flexible about making volunteering work for the volunteers whenever possible.  That family friendly approach to service is part of what makes our community such a nice place to be a part of!  So what would you say to someone who’s still on the fence about volunteering?

Jennifer:  I would say to choose one activity in which you feel most comfortable with, even if it is a bit out of your comfort zone, and give it a try. Many volunteer opportunities are only once for an hour or two, so even if it ends up not being something that you particularly enjoy, you can endure it for a short time and research new opportunities when they arise.

From my very first volunteer experience at SMA, the teachers and other volunteers have done an amazing job of making me feel welcomed and needed and I soon began feeling much more comfortable volunteering for new things. I feel very lucky to have met many wonderful parents, whom I now consider friends, because of the opportunities I’ve had to volunteer at SMA.

Just think, each parent you form a relationship with is another person to call in the morning when you’ve misplaced the memo about picture day or your child insists that it is pajama day. It takes a village to ensure that you don’t send your child to school in their pajamas on picture day.

VS: Very true, Jennifer!  The relationships you build as a volunteer at St. Monica’s last a life time! So tell us, what will you be volunteering at next? 

Jennifer:  At this time I plan on finishing up the year as Co-Homeroom Mom and Art Mom with a few more Spring and End of the Year Activities. I hope to continue in a similar capacity next year.

VS:  That’s fantastic, Jennifer!! Good luck with all the projects you’ll be working on through the end of the year and we wish you extra good luck in the Fall when your little one starts preschool!  And thanks so much for sharing your story and your time with us, Jennifer!

Wednesday
Apr092014

April's Volunteer Spotlight is on Jeremy Comito

The St. Monica Academy School Board recognizes that so many of the events that are run through our school and our parish are successful because of those who volunteer their time to make them happen.  Each month, the School Board will shine a spotlight on a randomly selected volunteer to share their story and spread the message that volunteering is done by all of us in many ways!

April’s Volunteer Spotlight is on Jeremy Comito

April's Volunteer Spotlight is on Jeremy ComitoJeremy Comito is a St. Monica parent and parishioner, the Wolf Den Assistant Cub Scout Leader and has been active within SMA as a Chicago Fireman to talk to the children about Fire Safety and Prevention.

We recently reached out to Jeremy to learn more about him and how he incorporates volunteering into his busy schedule.

VS:  Hi, Jeremy! Thanks so much for agreeing to be our April Volunteer Spotlight!  And thank you for taking the time to share your story!  We know how busy you are, particularly as the dad of two young kids and as a Chicago Fireman and Paramedic!   Can you tell us a little bit about yourself outside of volunteering at St. Monica’s?

Jeremy:  Sure thing!  My name is Jeremy Comito and my wife, Leesa, and I have been SMA parents for 5 years, ever since our son was in preschool. We also live in the neighborhood and are St. Monica parish members.

VS:  What a wonderful time of life!!!  But it sounds awfully busy!  What drives you to volunteer on top of all that you have going on already in your life?

Jeremy:  It allows me to spend more time with my son doing fun things and being a positive role model, while he is still young enough to think I'm cool.

VS:  LOL!!  And these are the times your son will definitely remember!  Still, as a Fireman and Paramedic, life must be hectic!  Do you find that the demands of everyday life act as a challenge to volunteering?

Jeremy:  Sure, but it’s that way for everyone!  I’m fortunate to be a shift-worker, which allows me to have time to volunteer.  Still, my wife works a full-time job and I watch our 19-month-old daughter on my days off. So, juggling homework, dinner, and getting the kids ready and out the door is sometimes a challenge at the end of a very long, busy day. But my wife and I make a great team and we work together to make sure everything gets done.

VS:  Having a partner to make it through the busy days definitely helps!! And you guys are deep in the parenting trenches!  So what would you say to someone like you, someone who’s already got a million and one things to take care of and who's on the fence about volunteering? 

Jeremy:  The point isn't to gain recognition and sometimes it can feel like a thankless job. People do really appreciate your time and effort and in the long run, what matters is your kids will appreciate all that you do to make their school and community a great place to belong to. All the wonderful things that happen at St. Monica only happen because of the volunteers and the time they dedicate.

VS: Excellent point, Jeremy!  The community at St. Monica’s is so strong because we pull together to make big things happen.  So tell us, what will you be volunteering at next? 

Jeremy:  Next year I plan to move up to Den Leader for my son's Cub Scout Den, which will take up a lot of my time. I also hope to have time to help out with more fundraising events.

VS:  That’s fantastic, Jeremy!! Good luck with your new position next year!  And thanks so much for sharing your story and your time with us, Jeremy!

 

 

 

Sunday
Mar022014

March's Volunteer Spotlight

The St. Monica Academy School Board recognizes that so many of the events that are run through our school and our parish are successful because of those who volunteer their time to make them happen.  Each month, the School Board will shine a spotlight on a randomly selected volunteer to share their story and spread the message that volunteering is done by all of us in many ways!

March’s Volunteer Spotlight is on Lorena Martinez

March's Volunteer Spotlight is on Lorena MartinezLorena Martinez is an SMA parent and the 7th grade boy’s assistant volleyball coach.

We recently reached out to Lorena to learn more about her and how she incorporates volunteering into her busy schedule.

VS:  Hi, Lorena! Thanks so much for agreeing to be our March Volunteer Spotlight!  And thank you for taking the time to share your story!  We know how busy you are, particularly as the mom of two active, junior high boys!!!   Can you tell us a little bit about yourself outside of volunteering at St. Monica’s?

Lorena:  Sure thing!  My name is Lorena Martinez and I’ve been an SMA parent for 8 years.  My sons Carlos and Isaac are in 7th and 8th grade.  My niece also attends SMA (in 5th grade) and her father attended SMA too.

VS:  How cool to see how deeply entwined your family is in the SMA community!!!  Connections like that make our larger St. Monica family so vital and strong!  And it’s that personal connection that makes volunteering so important to so many volunteers. Is the family connection your favorite part of volunteering? 

Lorena:  Oh, yes! I just love seeing the boys have so much fun playing volleyball and interacting with one another.  They get along really well and they genuinely enjoy the game.

VS:  That’s fantastic!  And it has to be so nice for your sons to have you play such a big role in their sport!  It’s not easy in this day and age to be so involved in our kids’ lives, so it’s fantastic that you’ve found a way to make that happen!!  What do you find to be the biggest challenge in volunteering?

Lorena:  The biggest challenge is when my boys have games on the same day at different locations.  I have to attend the 7th grade games so I sometimes miss Isaac’s games.  My mom and my sister help me out a lot with taking Isaac to his games when I can’t.  That’s really the only challenge because I love watching both play and I can’t always be at Isaac’s games.

VS:  That no small sacrifice!!  But I’m sure Carlos and the other boys on the 7th grade team appreciate the gift of your time!  And providing that example of leadership and being a person involved in your community is so important for all of our kids!  Still making those kids of choices can be hard! So what would you say to someone who's on the fence about volunteering? 

Lorena:  Why not just give it a try?  I really think the kids like having their parents involved and it gives you a chance to get to know all the other students as well.  It’s a good way to spend quality time with your child.

VS: So true, Lorena!  We couldn’t agree more.  So tell us, what will you be volunteering at next? 

Lorena:  I will most likely volunteer for volleyball again next year.  I work full time so I don’t have a lot of free time during the days to volunteer at school but I try when I can. 

VS:  Well between that and planning a graduation this year as well as another Confirmation and graduation next year, it sounds like you’ll have plenty to keep you busy!! Good luck with this busy and exciting time in your life!  Thanks so much for sharing your story and your time with us, Lorena!

 

 

Tuesday
Feb042014

FEBRUARY'S VOLUNTEER SPOTLIGHT

The St. Monica Academy School Board recognizes that so many of the events that are run through our school and our parish are successful because of those who volunteer their time to make them happen.  Each month, the School Board will shine a spotlight on a randomly selected volunteer to share their story and spread the message that volunteering is done by all of us in many ways! 

FEBRUARY'S VOLUNTEER SPOTLIGHT IS ON 
BOB HILGER

February's Volunteer Spotlight is on Bob HilgerBob Hilger is a St. Monica parishioner (and parent to 3 SMA graduates) and Assistant Scout Master.  He’s also the Band Booster President at Notre Dame/Resurrection HS, volunteers with the Chicago Herpetological Society and puts on a pretty amazing reptile event for our scout troops.

We recently reached out to Bob to learn more about him and how he incorporates volunteering into his busy schedule.

VS:  Hi, Bob! Thanks so much for agreeing to be our February Volunteer Spotlight!  And thank you for taking the time to share your story!  We know how busy you are, particularly as you put so much time and energy into making the St. Monica's community so warm and welcoming!!!   Can you tell us a little bit about yourself outside of volunteering at St. Monica’s?

Bob:  Of course!  My name is Bob Hilger and both Sue, my wife, and I have been active parishioners of this parish over 20 some years. All of our children have attended St. Monica Academy, and we are PROUD to be part of St. Monica.

VS:  Wow, Bob!  That’s amazing!!!  It’s people like you, who are immersed in the St. Monica community that have helped grow our parish into the amazing place it is today! And it’s volunteers like you that help lead the way for new families that join our community every year. What is your favorite part about volunteering at St. Monica's? 

Bob:  The wonderful people you get to meet and interact with on fund raising events. You become life long friends with these fantastic families.

VS:  That’s so true!  The deep sense of community we have here at St. Monica’s is due in large part because of how much of our lives are joyfully intertwined with each other’s!  And we’re stronger as a community when we work together!! What is the biggest challenge you face when volunteering and how do you over come it?

Bob:  Trying to find time to fit in your family, volunteering events, and getting other parents to help out. I always thanked my volunteers very much for all they do to help me, and by that, I feel you show appreciation for these people who took their own time to help out and by that appreciation you will always get people to help out again.

VS:  We couldn’t agree more!  So much of what makes our community great only happens because people are willing to share their time and talent with us!  We know that means time away from family or less time to do other things.  It’s always a choice people have to make and making sure they know how much we as a community value them is critical!! So what would you say to someone who's on the fence about volunteering? 

Bob:  Oh please help out, because the tremendous amount of satisfaction you will receive and the appreciation of others is amazing.  You will always get back more when you give out to others. You will also realize talents you never thought you had by helping out.

VS: Perfectly said, Bob!  We couldn’t agree more.  So tell us, what will you be volunteering at next? 

Bob:  I am always busy, and right now I am working on a Boy Scout high adventure to Philmont, New Mexico, some marching band events and a Reptile fest coming up in the spring with the Chicago Herpetological Society.

VS:  Wow!! Sounds like life’s never boring for you, Bob!  Good luck with all the events you’re planning and we hope you get some time to relax with your family as well!  Thanks so much for sharing your story and your time with us, Bob!

Tuesday
Nov122013

November's Volunteer Spotlight


November's Volunteer Spotlight is on Laura Amstadt

The St. Monica Academy School Board recognizes that so many of the events that are run through our school and our parish are successful because of those who volunteer their time to make them happen.  Each month, the School Board will shine a spotlight on a randomly selected volunteer to share their story and spread the message that volunteering is done by all of us in many ways! 

November's Volunteer Spotlight is on 
Laura Amstadt

Laura Amstadt is an SMA parent and Market Day Chairperson.  She also volunteers as her daughter’s Girl Scout Cookie Mom and at various other events such as Movie Night, Lunch With Santa, the Scholastic Book Fair and Parents Night Out.

We recently reached out to Laura to learn more about her and how she incorporates volunteering into her busy schedule.

VS:  Hi, Laura! Thanks so much for agreeing to be our very first Volunteer Spotlight!  We’re so happy to be able to share your story as you put a lot of time and energy into making St. Monica's such a wonderful place!!!   Can you tell us a little bit about yourself outside of volunteering at St. Monica’s?

Laura:  Sure thing!  My name is Laura Amstadt and my husband and I have lived in the neighborhood for 15 years.  We have a daughter, Jessica, who is in 2nd grade at SMA this year.

VS:  That’s so cool that you’ve been in the neighborhood for so long!  That deep sense of community is definitely a big part of the St. Monica spirit! Which is probably why we have such amazing volunteers!! What is your favorite part about volunteering at St. Monica's? 

Laura:  I am really enjoying being the chairperson for Market Day.  It has been exciting trying to surpass the monthly profits over last year and meeting new St. Monica parents and parish members.  My daughter gets to help out with some of the paperwork and at some of the sales, and I like seeing her have fun with volunteering, feeling like she is making a difference.

VS:  That’s so smart to make volunteering a family affair!  But even so, we know it’s not always easy to incorporate volunteering into our lives. What is the biggest challenge you face when volunteering and how do you over come it? 

Laura:  The problem that most people face is finding the time.  I do what I can, when I can and it has worked out so far.  I cannot do much during normal school hours so I try to make up for it in the evening and on the weekends. 

VS:  What would you say to someone who's on the fence about volunteering? 

Laura:  I was nervous to volunteer when I first came to St. Monica but I just had to jump in.  You should do the same.  It's a great opportunity to meet new people or just socialize with the ones you already know.  Not to mention all the good it does for the school and your children.

VS: Very true, Laura!  That’s great advice.  So tell us, what will you be volunteering at next? 

Laura:  Market Day is a month-to-month program so I will continue to do that this school year.  I will help out at all the other fundraisers I have done in the past if they need me.  I am also the Cookie Mom for our Girl Scout troop; cookie sales are coming up in January so I will be busy with that too!!

VS:  Well you’re certainly going to be busy!  We hope you enjoy your holidays and get some rest over the break!  Thanks so much for sharing your story and your time with us, Laura!