At a time when it seems difficult to find good in the world, Christine Kickels sees hope for a better future in the students she assists every day. As a COD reference librarian and manager of the College’s Philanthropy Collection, Kickels meets students with passion for their communities, a desire to effect change and a commitment to service. She also sees a little bit of herself in today’s college student.
“Volunteering was part of our family structure,” explained Kickels. “My parents included volunteering in family activities and taught us that everyone could help in some way.”
One of her first volunteer activities was working at the local library. It was there that she blended her desire to help with her eventual career path.
“I was mentored and given a lot of support by the people I worked with, and while I was helping out, I was learning a lot and gaining responsibility,” she said. “I was always thankful for that opportunity and understand how important it is to invest in young people.”
Because someone believed in her, Kickels is paying it forward, giving back to COD students and mentoring those seeking information about volunteerism.
“The students I meet don’t want to just discuss the issues, they want to fix hunger and homelessness. They want to take action.”
Finding a way to effect change can be a challenge. Kickels curates the only Philanthropy Collection in the area and encourages students, faculty, staff and community members to take advantage of the wealth of information. The Collection has been around for 16 years and has grown to include information on everything from starting a non-profit to working with volunteers, from grant writing to assessing which charity to support. There are online resources that can match a person’s interests with non-profit organizations and rating systems that will breakdown how much of a donor’s monetary gift goes directly to those in need.
As a member of the Giving DuPage Board, Kickels serves as a liaison between the college and the County’s non-profit organization that supports and encourages volunteerism.
“Giving DuPage maintains a portal filled with hundreds of volunteer opportunities, in-kind donations, fund raising events and jobs. It is an amazing resource.”
Kickels continues to give back any way she can, from volunteering for the COD Food Truck Rally & Sunset 5K to supporting campus donation drives to helping with COD Cares activities. She also keeps telling her story and is energized every time she introduces students to COD Cares.
“Students say they didn’t realize they can be involved in service on campus,” she said. “There really is something for everyone.”