September Volunteer of the Month

Earl Moran believes that volunteering changes your view of the world. Nominated by LifeBridge Community Services, Earl’s whole career has been spent working for non-profits and volunteering. Presently, he is the Global Head of Child Sponsorship for Save the Children and also volunteers as a Tutor at LifeBridge. We are thrilled to honor Earl as our September Volunteer of the Month and share his story.

Earl began his volunteer work with LifeBridge Community Services a little over a year ago. A friend, who is also a LifeBridge board member, invited him to their annual breakfast thinking he might be interested in getting involved with the organization and he was right. Earl felt an immediate connection to the organization and the work they do, this was something he had been looking for. He signed up to volunteer in the tutoring program once a week. The program offers homework help to middle and high school students and Earl enjoys working on homework, learning with the kids are interested in and engaging with them. “Volunteering is always more fun when you have someone to engage with and that’s a large part of what I enjoy about my time with the students. I’m excited to start the second year of the program,” he shared when I asked what made him commit to this program. He also volunteers as part of the tax preparation team and supports the Continuous Quality Improvement work at LifeBridge.

Earl’s work with children started in 1990 when he spent four years as a Peace Corps volunteer in Botswana. During his time in Botswana, he worked on a program helping homeless youth. This group of homeless youth lived in a drainage pipe and every Sunday morning he would go and spend the day with them. The day started by taking the kids to the store to buy breakfast and then bringing it back to set it up for everyone to have a meal. He had an arrangement with a local school to teach the kids basketball and they would go there after breakfast and practice for a couple hours. Later in the day, he would take the kids to a Baptist mission to get a change of clothing, a hot meal and help the Baptist group with small tasks. He worked on the program with another man who passed away while they were there and he inherited the program after that. He spent about a year and a half working with these kids; something he said was very emotional. He credits this opportunity as a great introduction to the complexities of how to help people and make it sustainable. A lot of resiliency was gained by just being positive with these kids.

When I asked Earl if his family has a community service focus and I wasn’t surprised to hear a resounding YES! Save the Children just recently deployed his wife to Texas to respond to the hurricane. She’s an accountant but told Earl that as soon as their second daughter got her driver’s license she would apply to be deployed as a responder for disaster relief. His daughters have also been inspired to volunteer. His oldest has been involved with Special Olympics for several years. She has a cousin with Down syndrome and she volunteered to be his partner. She learned, from her aunt, how to engage and work with her cousin. He shared that a lot of Special Olympics parents have stopped him and said how much they appreciate her and how much of an impact she is making. His response is that she worked hard to learn the practicality of being nice -when to talk and when to listen. She truly enjoys spending time with the kids. His second daughter, a high school student, is an active volunteer with both the Discovery Museum and the Trumbull Nature and Arts Center. Community service doesn’t end with his immediate family; he has a nephew who was also in the Peace Corps in Panama. They visited him recently as a family and were all very inspired by the work he is doing.

As we were finishing our conversation I asked Earl if he had any encouraging words for others interested in volunteering. He said “volunteering is usually about leaving your comfort zone and sometimes a messy business. It’s really rewarding if you are willing to work through the messiness and discomfort. Matching jobs and people is not a perfect science. You need to explore what you are good at and learn about what people need to find that good a match. The staff at non-profits are good at guiding you subtlety to something you may be interested in but don’t be afraid if it doesn’t stick, you can just try again with something new.”

There is no doubt that Earl and his family are inspiring others to get involved in their communities and volunteer. On behalf of Volunteer Square and LifeBridge Community Services, we want to thank Earl for his outstanding service to his community. Congratulations, Earl!