Former art teacher Kathy Taylor spent her career serving youth as an educator, so it was only fitting that she would spend her retirement serving the community. For many years, Taylor has provided assistance to families in need by volunteering with SPAN.
In 2015, Taylor was looking for something to do, so she wandered into SPAN. Jennifer Pumphrey, the former director of operations at SPAN, invited her to spend the day at the nonprofit’s office. Taylor said the experience changed her life.
“I saw how SPAN helped hardworking people escape an eviction,” she explained. “I sat with people plagued with hardships that left their homes without power, and threats of water being turned off. I watched as SPAN paid for a needed prescription or helped with the doctor bill. I listened to stories that brought tears to my eyes.”
Since that day, Taylor has been volunteering as an interviewer. Her job is to answer phones, find out what people may need, collect donations and paperwork, and so much more. She spends two days a week at SPAN from open to close. For reference, most volunteers work once or twice a month.
“Some days the phones are ringing off the hook and people are sitting out in the cars waiting their turn,” said Taylor. “You might think the same way; you think we live in a very middle class, affluent area and it's hard to realize that there's so many people in our area in need.”
Taylor has also become known for taking on extra projects and shifts and for using her expertise as a former art teacher to create posters and signs. She also serves as the representative for Our Shepherd Lutheran Church, one of the 13 member churches that support SPAN.
Currently she is supporting the Holiday Caring program. During the holidays, SPAN will provide families in need with baskets of Thanksgiving dinners and assist with Christmas gifts for families with children. This program is open to anyone who received help from SPAN in 2020 or 2021, and families who have a child attending an area school.
As a retiree, Taylor is often asked why she doesn’t work part-time. Her answer is simple.
“I get so much pay here. I have friends who retired that took jobs,” said Taylor. “I just really wanted to volunteer, and I told them I get paid more than usual.”
Taylor was nominated for Volunteer of the Month by Maia Grabau, the current director of operations at SPAN, who spoke of Taylor’s dedication to serving others and the organization.
“What makes her truly stand out is her sincere and deep compassion for people who are hurting,” said Grabau. “She truly cares. She does not volunteer at SPAN to feel good about herself. She does not volunteer to fill her time or out of a sense of duty. She volunteers because she genuinely loves people and lives her life to serve others.”
Along with her own nomination, Grabau included praise from Pumphrey and Ellen Kinsella, SPAN’s former director of development, when suggesting Taylor for the recognition.
“Kathy Taylor exemplifies the spirit of SPAN,” said Kinsella. “She often steps forward to volunteer if there is a last-minute opening or a special event requiring extra help. She goes the extra yard to try to help clients by coming up with innovative solutions and alternative resources.”
Pumphrey spoke highly of Taylor and her dedication to each individual who comes to SPAN for help.
“Kathy understands that each client is unique,” said Pumphrey. “She problem-solves to find the best way SPAN can help with each unique situation. She has educated herself on all of the available resources and policies of those resources so that she can share them with the clients.”
Taylor said it meant a lot to her to be nominated by women she had worked with for many years.
“I'm so touched that they felt that way,” said Taylor, “because I felt the same way about them, all of them.”
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