Kathy Smith believes that giving back to her community is important; she’s helping to fill a need by using the professional skills she’s acquired through her career. Nominated by LifeBridge Community Services, I am thrilled to honor Kathy as our April Volunteer of the Month.
Kathy started her volunteer work with LifeBridge about two years ago. Her daughter needed to fulfill service hours for high school and was looking at local nonprofits to find the right fit. LifeBridge advertised their need for afterschool math tutors and Kathy decided to sign up. With a degree in Mathematics and Secondary Education, Kathy was a math teacher for two years out of college before becoming a computer engineer, earning her MSEE degree in Computer Systems Engineering. She also works as a math tutor and SAT/ACT prep tutor at the Huntington Learning Center, Greenwich Education Group and in Weston and Wilton schools.
With LifeBridge, Kathy volunteers as a math tutor on Friday afternoons for high school and pre-college students. She helps prepare students entering college for the math placement exam. She shared that she really enjoys her work with the students from LifeBridge, she’s able to provide a service that these students wouldn’t be able to afford privately. I asked her what she likes about LifeBridge and why she’s stayed with them for 2 years and she said she believes in the work they do and likes how committed they are to helping young people prepare for college or work after high school.
A resident of Weston, CT with two children that have graduated from college, Kathy finds she has more time to volunteer now that her children are adults. She’s no stranger to service work. Her husband is a doctor who has participated in medical missions and Kathy is a volunteer EMT in Westport. She shared that both her work as a tutor and an EMT are both very rewarding experiences and she enjoys giving back to communities that have a need.
When I asked Kathy how she could inspire others to get involved in their communities, she said the best way is by example and word of mouth. LifeBridge Community Services featured Kathy in a recent newsletter so she sent the piece to family and friends to encourage them to get involved with the program. One friend, who is a professor at NYU, decided to reach out to LifeBridge to get involved in their small business development program.
Kathy doesn’t stop with family and friends, she also encourages the students she tutors to become volunteer EMTs. Westport supports the EMT training of young people and offers financing to those who need it. Several of Kathy’s students have gone through the 4-6 month training and become EMTs in Westport. Working with her students as equals is fun for her; she said they are all treated as equals when providing services to the patients. As a volunteer EMT, students gain medical skills and exposure to the field and it’s a great way for them to decide if they want to pursue a career medicine or become a paid EMT or paramedic, there’s a huge demand for both. Kathy stressed that they have to be mature and focused, but it’s a great opportunity to learn and she encourages all of her students to get involved.
On behalf of Volunteer Square and LifeBridge Community Services, we want to thank Kathy for her outstanding service to the communities in Fairfield County and for inspiring others to give back to their community too. Congratulations, Kathy!