Living a full life can be elusive. However, volunteering seems to check all the boxes for Yvette Dagen, COD Risk Management administrative assistant and active community volunteer.
"Volunteering gives me a sense of pride, brings me joy, introduces me to new people and situations, and challenges me," said Yvette. A crafter, scrapbook expert and service-oriented professional, Yvette credits her volunteer spirit to good genes. "My mother was a natural born giver, and I think that describes me too. I like to jump in and offer my gifts to others. I feel good seeing other people feeling good."
"Gifts" do not have to be large according to Yvette. It can be the gift of a smile, helping someone complete a task, or forgoing a relaxing evening to assist those in need. From serving as an overnight site captain for PADS to gathering donations for Dig Pink volleyball to support breast cancer patients, Yvette has found creative ways to share her time and talents within her community. She said volunteering with COD Cares opened up more avenues to give and came with an added bonus.
"Through COD Cares, our office volunteers as a team," she explained. "Trisha Sowatzke and I have brought the Risk Management team together for several COD Cares group activities." Yvette brought in the purchasing department to grow the team. Over the years they have cleaned and restocked a food pantry, completed a spring landscaping project for a group home, played games with senior citizens, and created comfort packages for troops overseas.
Yvette said there is always a new adventure when she volunteers through COD Cares.
"I have never done the same thing twice. I meet new people every time we go out."
While Yvette has volunteered for global initiatives, such as Feed My Starving Children, she said she has become more aware of needs closer to home through COD Cares activities. She is moved by stories from those she has helped and their personal experiences have encouraged her to continue volunteering.
"There are so many people in need in our own community. There are needs we can address in our own backyards,” she said. "COD Cares has introduced me to a world I had never seen before. Meeting women in a shelter and hearing their stories, or learning about the projects at Operation Support Our Troops have inspired me to do more."
Yvette believes in "paying it forward" and says that whenever someone has given kindness to her, she wants to give the same to another person. She personally volunteers her time at Operation Support Our Troops and continues to sign up for COD Cares activities. She also encourages others to get involved. Her daughter Kiara is following her example as a volunteer for students with special needs.
According to Yvette, it doesn’t take a lot of money, huge resources, tons of time or amazing talent to make a difference. It just takes the will to help. She encourages staff and students to volunteer through COD Cares because "there’s no excuse not to".