Linda Thurman, director of student professional development and employer relations, has been serving UNC Charlotte for 21 years and has continued her service through volunteering with UNC Charlotte and the surrounding community. As a preview for National Volunteer Week, April 18-24, Thurman describes her volunteer experience, how it has changed since COVID-19 and how volunteering, even in small ways, can make an impact.
Describe your volunteer experience over the years.
I was thrilled to be part of the University’s community service program this past fall. I participated in creating back-to-school supply kits for elementary students. I was able to take several boxes of supplies home and create school kits with my teenage daughter. Together, we worked on the school kits and then donated them to the new elementary school in Harrisburg. My other volunteer experiences include participating in my town’s community events, litter pick up, the local Humane Society, my church, my kids’ school and sporting teams.
Why do you volunteer?
I have volunteered in some capacity my entire adult life. I think it is important to lead by example for my kids and hopefully to inspire others to do the same. I have been so fortunate in my life, so I think it is important to give back and help others.
How has COVID-19 changed your volunteer habits?
I have not been able to do any in-person activities for most of last year. I have been able to do some things here and there when possible. It’s been difficult because I truly enjoy getting out in the community to help. I was able to do litter pick up a few weeks back which I was excited to be helping out in some small way.
Can you share an inspirational story from volunteering?
I have been fostering dogs through my county’s Humane Society for the past several years. I tend to take the larger dogs that people are afraid to take on. I love the challenge. I take the dogs who are scared, shy or overlooked. My family and I work with the dogs and help them tell their story to others in hopes they get adopted. We have had such a high success rate with helping these dogs find their forever homes. There is no better feeling than seeing this dog that no one wanted be loved by their new owners
What would you say to encourage others to volunteer?
Whether you know it or not, you are impacting the lives of others, both people and animals. What you do, while it may seem small to you, can be huge in someone else’s world. Just showing you care and that people matter, no matter who they are, can be one of the greatest gifts you can give another human being.
There are many ways to volunteer in the community or help the community from home. For the 2021 National Volunteer Week, Community Relations is offering volunteer-from-home kits. Employees can choose to build 50 toiletry kits or 50 pencil packs. Upon completion, volunteers will decide which local nonprofit receives the donation and deliver them directly. Everyone can make a difference in the community no matter where they are.