Volunteer Spotlight – Anne Mlecko

Volunteering Runs in This Woman’s Family

For Anne Mlecko, volunteering at HEARTH is a family affair – one that spans three generations.

Anne’s mother, Judy Schreiber, began volunteering in 2007, lending her IT expertise as the outcomes database coordinator for HEARTH where she analyzes data for the organization’s reports and grants. And Anne has even enlisted her three young daughters as HEARTH volunteers.

Five years ago when Anne’s daughters were all in school she wanted to volunteer for a cause that she believed in and would fit into her busy schedule. HEARTH was the logical choice.

“I was looking for a way to give back, and I was familiar with HEARTH because of my mother’s work there,” Anne recalls. “I loved the fact that HEARTH helps women in every aspect of their lives, from housing to counseling to education. HEARTH helps the entire family. Children in school see their mothers in school so they’re good role models. I totally bought into HEARTH’s mission.”

For the past four years Anne and Eileen McGovern have coordinated activities around HEARTH’s Holiday donations. After getting a wish list of items from the women, Anne and Eileen contact the donors who provide the families’ gifts, Christmas trees, decorations, stockings and all the other items associated with the Holidays. Once she and Eileen receive the donations, they sort them and make sure they get to the appropriate families.

Spring Showers Bring New Volunteer Opportunities

Last year Anne helped to organize the Spring Shower, an annual event that provides HEARTH families with needed household items while giving donors the unique opportunity to tour the facility and chat with the families and hear about their challenges and successes firsthand. For that effort Anne contacted groups and individuals interested in participating in the shower, received and sorted the donations, and planned and supervised the actual event.

The 2013 Spring Shower was especially challenging because it was HEARTH’s first year in their new location, which was still under construction. That Spring Shower focused on providing new bedding items to outfit the new apartments, and Anne even coordinated volunteers to have the beds made up for the families when they arrived at their new homes.

This year, the Kitchen Odds n Ends Shower, http://hearth-bp.org/kitchenshower.html, which will be held on Wednesday, May 7 from 6:30 to 8 PM, is focusing on kitchen and household items to help stock the apartments for the HEARTH families. Anne is again coordinating the donors and donations and supervising the event.

Young Volunteers in Training

So how does a busy mother of three find the time to volunteer? “My work is done during school hours and HEARTH is very flexible with me,” Anne says. “And I bring my daughters with me. The girls get to see how HEARTH is helping other children. They’re training to be good volunteers.”

Anne’s daughters – Alexis, 14; Jenna, 11; and Maura, 10 — have sold raffle tickets at the Purses Luncheon, stocked shelves at the HEARTH store and babysat for HEARTH residents “My daughters love the kids!” Anne says. Her girls’ involvement has extended to school where they filled Easter eggs for the HEARTH Easter Egg Hunt and will sort and count them to get them ready for the festivities.

The Joy of Volunteering

Most of Anne’s work at HEARTH is done behind the scenes, coordinating logistics for events, and that’s OK with her. “When I do have the opportunity to meet the women and their children at the Spring Shower and when I gather the Christmas lists, everyone is so grateful,” Anne says. “It makes me feel good to know I’m giving back in some small way. I started out small, offering to do what I could and found more ways to help out.

“I feel a little self-conscious talking about my volunteering at HEARTH,” Anne adds. “I don’t like to be in the spotlight, but maybe someone reading this will be inspired to volunteer too.”