The adage “find something you love to do and you’ll never work a day in your life” doesn’t only apply to careers. Just ask Stephanie Quirk. The COD Coordinator of Student Life took that advice one step further when she discovered the joy of volunteering.
“I was taught to live life with passion and to do the best you can in everything you do,” explained Stephanie. “I apply that same work ethic to volunteering with the Junior League of Kane and DuPage Counties, Inc.”
Established in 1995 as a regional chapter of the Association of Junior Leagues International, the League is committed to promoting voluntarism, developing the potential of women and improving communities through effective action and leadership. League volunteers help children at risk in the community by promoting literacy, developing self-esteem, and providing positive programming.
Stephanie’s first involvement with the League allowed her to use her background in education to help children find and pursue a passion for reading through League initiatives including story times and family literacy events. The Junior League of Kane and DuPage Counties, Inc. are celebrating their 20th year of service with the “20,000 Books” donation drive. The children’s books collected are sorted and redistributed to local schools and community organizations.
“Research supports the fact that early exposure to books and reading improves student success long-term,” said Stephanie. “Some of the children we work with have never owned a book. These initiatives have a positive impact the children and their families.”
As someone who welcomes a new challenge, Stephanie serves in leadership roles for two League committees. She helps identify and implement short-term, hands-on volunteer projects in response to immediate community needs as chair of the “Done in a Day” committee. These activities can be anything from taking shifts at a food pantry to providing school supplies to children in need.
In addition to these short-term projects, Stephanie has taken on a long-term challenge. The Junior League is enjoying a renewed energy both nationally and internationally and, as such, is redefining their role in the communities they serve. Identifying strengths, setting long-range goals, building community partnerships and developing strategic plans are all part of the process.
“Since August, I have been participating in training programs to reimagine how our League can best respond to community needs,” said Stephanie. “We are making connections with community partners, such as the Kane County Health Department and consortiums like Voices for Illinois Children, to better identify and improve services that deliver assistance to mothers and their young children.”
While Stephanie’s volunteer projects take place afterhours and off campus, she shares her experiences with students on the COD Student Leadership Council. She admits that sometimes people don’t know what they can do to help and are often looking for outlets or ways to get involved. She tells students to find an issue they care about or where they can make an impact, big or small, then share their talent and time.
“I am inspired by the possibilities of volunteering and I hope to inspire action in our students,” she said. “The joy in volunteering for me is the experience of having a positive impact on someone’s life. You feel it, see it. It is wonderful to share that joy.”