Congratulations to Maureen Hunter, our December 2017 Volunteer of the Month! Maureen has been helping our Foodservice Training students improve their math skills to make them more able to handle recipes in the kitchen. Thank you to Maureen for her incredible support!
How did you hear about Inspiration Corporation?
I heard about Inspiration Corporation years ago while doing some research about organizations that work to provide services to the homeless or near homeless in the Chicago area. As someone who loves to cook but whose nerdy side loves math, tutoring culinary math seemed like a perfect fit.
What is the most enjoyable part of volunteering for you?
Without a doubt, the most enjoyable part is the look of accomplishment on a student’s face when they realize that, with just a brief refresher course, they are able to do the math problems, even the difficult, dreaded fractions.
What aspect of volunteering are you most excited about? What is the most challenging?
It is exciting and inspiring to see how many individuals take the orientation test each Tuesday. Their presence indicates their drive and their willingness to be part of a challenging program as the next step to pursuing a job that could help them improve their life.
I think the biggest challenge with tutoring is to create an environment where the students feel comfortable enough to ask the first question. During the orientation sessions, I have noticed that most are hesitant to ask for assistance, but once one has braved to raise a hand, others quickly follow and a productive learning environment has been created.
What is your volunteer background?
Most of my volunteer work has been with various organizations at my parish and at Housing Forward where I have been a volunteer for the last twenty years for the PADS emergency shelter. I also assist Housing Forward with special projects involving their mission to provide solutions to homelessness.
Why do you volunteer?
Hopefully, my volunteer time assists both staff and participants. The organizations where I volunteer have talented and dedicated professional staffs. I hope that my assistance allows staff some extra time for other aspects of their job while assisting participants to feel a bit empowered with the knowledge that they are able to “do the math.” The reward is the smiles on their faces when they realize “they got it!”
Describe one of the most interesting experiences you’ve had as a volunteer.
Years ago when I first started tutoring at IC, I was matched with a gentleman for one on one “culinary math” tutoring. He was already in the culinary program but he needed some additional help with the math portion of the training program. The gentleman was middle-aged and was driven to “re-learn” the required math concepts but also mentioned repeatedly how embarrassed he was that he did not know how to do the math. I am forever grateful to him for sharing how he felt because I have kept that thought foremost in my thoughts as I start each tutoring session and convey to the participants not to feel bad in any way because the material is difficult but with a little bit of work they will be successful.
What have you learned from your volunteer experience?
I have learned from both staff and participants that drive and dedication result in positive outcomes – a lesson that can be used in everyday life.