“Life is a circle, by giving of yourself, you are also receiving and that is how we become fulfilled as volunteers. It helps keep me balanced.” Nominated by LifeBridge Community Services, Chris McHale said it’s an honor to be recognized as our January 2018 Volunteer of the Month and we are thrilled to celebrate the work she does for her community.
Volunteering came later in life for Chris. She had a long career in the corporate world that started by owning and operating a family residential oil business at a young age after both parents died unexpectedly. After selling the family business, her career path took hold with business development and oil trading positions with ExxonMobil, Tosco Refinery, Phillips Petroleum, ConocoPhillips and Sunoco, Inc. While working in the corporate world, she had the opportunity to volunteer during business time. She would and her co-workers would go to a local inner-city school and read to the students. The experience was rewarding on both sides. She loved engaging with the young people and the students were so happy to have adults take an interest in them as they didn’t always come from a stable environment. She also volunteered at the ASPCA, she was always happy to help with whatever they needed, whether it be cleaning cages or taking dogs for walks.
As a single mom, she states that she shared her successes in life with her daughter Morgan who recently completed her graduate studies at Salve Regina University and works for YELP in Chicago. I asked Chris if she encouraged her daughter to be civic-minded when she was young and she said she sure did. Morgan was always involved with agencies that served seniors; she loved working with that population. She also attended Lauralton Hall, where there was a strong focus on community service and Morgan volunteered her time at a local nursing home.
Recently retired, Chris wanted to be more involved in her community and share her business discipline and fiscal knowledge. She found an opportunity she loves at LifeBridge Community Services, where she works as a financial coach to two clients that are working on making a difference in their own lives and for their families. She also lends her time to the VITA Asset Ambassador Program. She boasts, “LifeBridge is a well-run organization that has a big heart supported by all the staff and volunteers to ensure that their efforts do, have, and will continue to make a difference in so many people's lives. It is an honor and blessing to be a part of that dedication.”
When asked what she wanted to share with people to encourage them to lend their time and skills to community organizations, she said, “What I found is that we are all really connected, absent gender and demographics. It’s important that we don’t judge a book by its cover. People don’t take advantage of programs like VITA and financial coaching because they don’t want to or they can’t do things on their own, it was just never modeled for them.” That is actually what she does as a financial coach, model skills for her clients that they can use to be successful in their own lives. Through this works, she feels “It is I, that has reaped the benefits of feeling the power and blessing of enlightenment in being a better person for having the opportunity to make a difference.”
On behalf of Volunteer Square and LifeBridge Community Services, we want to thank Chris for her outstanding service to the community. Congratulations, Chris!