When Vi Russell, who was the first paid staff person at Community Thread and who served as the Executive Director for 20 years, established this award in 1992 she understood that volunteerism just doesn’t happen in the community.
The 2013 Recipient of the Vi Russell Award is Cheryl Schindler.
Effective volunteerism that responds to the needs of the community requires careful management, and the people that provide management of volunteers deserved very special recognition.
So each year, the Community Thread Board of Directors identifies a volunteer manager who exemplifies excellence in the work of coordinating, managing, and inspiring volunteers. Honoring the hidden heroes in volunteer management the purpose of the Vi Russell Award for Excellence in Volunteer Management.
Schindler has spent much of her life living, working, and volunteering in Stillwater. As a member of this community Cheryl’s influence can be traced to numerous organizations, churches, and causes that she cares about. Her own life is loaded with experiences and wisdom gleaned from her own volunteer efforts.
Listening to Cheryl talk about her first volunteer experiences you get the sense that volunteering is as essential to her life and purpose as oxygen.
“My first official role as a volunteer was for Greeley Nursing Home as a candy striper. I was in 8th grade. I looked real cute in my blue and white striped pinafore. I loved visiting with the people and playing games with them. I didn’t have grandparents so it was a fun connection.”
From there she went on to volunteer with her daughters through Girl Scouts, the Muscular Dystrophy Association, her children’s schools, Hospice, and many, many volunteer roles in her church.
“Giving back to the community and helping others has always been an important part of who I am,” says Cheryl with a shrug and a smile.
Schindler lives in Stillwater with her husband Dave, and together they raised three daughters.
Faith and family are the two most treasured parts of her life, and these priorities manifest themselves daily in her work as a volunteer manager. When her children were young, she brought them along so they could volunteer as a family.
As a happily married couple, she and Dave would volunteer for Lutheran Marriage Encounter, mentoring and teaching other couples how to have a successful and happy relationship.
If you’re related to Cheryl – or if you even just know her- chances are you’ve volunteered with her, for her, or because of her.
A woman of deep faith, Cheryl longed for a job that aligned with her values and desire to help her fellow human beings. Listening to her heart, Cheryl felt called to try the flip side of the volunteer experience- coordinating volunteers professionally.
When she talks about her role as a volunteer manager with Solid Ground that you can see how deeply her work and her values align.
Cheryl said: “Every day I wake up and know I’m going to a job that I love. I needed to feel like I was making a real difference in the lives of people I work with. The thing I love most about my work is I get the best of both worlds. I meet amazing, selfless, people who give of their time and energy and I match their passions with people who truly need their support. I see the joy people get in giving and the joy the people have in receiving, it’s an unbelievable connection.”