Heidi is both a shining example and inspired advocate of the belief in meaningful volunteering.
While juggling her many responsibilities as a mom, clubwoman, full-time commercial designer, and president of her school board, Heidi always finds time to motivate people around her to take part in meaningful volunteering. She has been honored as a “Hero in Education” by the Lake Elsinore Unified School District for her service to students, awarded the Honorary Service Award by her PTSA, and named “Woman-of-the-Year” by her club. Drawing from her own experiences as a Hugh O’Brian Youth Leadership student, she has continued to promote its mission in her work as a clubwoman and community leader.
How did you get involved with HOBY?
I attended HOBY in 1982. As a 15-year-old girl, I was very active in school leadership, high school sports, and other extracurricular activities. I remember feeling so honored to represent my small high school at this prestigious event and excited to have the opportunity to meet community leaders and to interact with other students from all over the country. To this day, I still keep in contact with friends I made at HOBY.
How did the HOBY program impact you?
Hugh O’Brian founded HOBY as a result of his volunteer work in Africa with Nobel Peace Prize recipient Dr. Albert Schweitzer. A quote by Dr. Schweitzer that really resonated with me was, “Do something for somebody every day for which you do not get paid.” Using that philosophy, HOBY taught us what it meant to have a positive impact on a national and global scale and challenged me to volunteer in a meaningful way.
This was the first time as young person where my future was being addressed. During the program, many speakers—prominent community members, politicians, and leaders in business—inspired us to think about our futures and how to make a difference in the world. This sparked my desire to take on leadership roles throughout my life.
Through my club, I am helping my community by inspiring other women and students to also take part in meaningful volunteerism.
How did you get involved in your club?
My mom is a huge inspiration in my life. When she was president of my club, she encouraged me to join because she saw that even though I was active in my PTA, my children were growing up and I needed another way to serve my community. As a clubwoman, she got so much out of it, and she knew I would have the same experience. I had always participated in club activities and events, but I had never taken a leadership role in GFWC. Once I thought about how important many of our programs and projects were, it reminded me of the HOBY message of meaningful volunteerism. Similar to my work with the PTA, being a clubwoman has a purpose. We are not just raising funds without knowing where they are going or working with youth without a goal in mind. We are providing opportunities for meaningful service for both students and women in our communities.
What are some of your favorite moments as a clubwoman?
Attending district conventions is one. During club events and meetings, everyone is so busy that there is little time to get to know each other. The conventions provide opportunities to deepen friendships by spending quality time with the women I work side-by-side with.
It is wonderful to have that feeling of unity regardless of your age when attending conventions or working on a volunteer project together, and it feels powerful to know that you have many memories of working together to make projects special and meaningful.
How did HOBY impact your work as a clubwoman?
Through my club, I am helping my community by inspiring other women and students to also take part in meaningful volunteerism. In my school district, we require that every student conduct 40 hours of community service before they graduate. Through the women’s clubs, I create opportunities for students to get their hours, but also show them the value of making a difference in their community. I was also instrumental in sponsoring students to attend HOBY from my town through the women’s clubs and I am continuing that again this year. My club probably would not have worked with the program if it had not been for my mom reminding me what a great impact HOBY had on my life. I am hoping to encourage other women to join to GFWC and participate in meaningful service by finding projects that are inclusive to all types of women. For 30 years, I was inspired to give back and today through my work in the women’s club and as the president of the school board, I am encouraging students and women to do the same. It all comes full circle.
An eight-year Air Force veteran, Penny has been a GFWC member since 2008, and is currently serving as the club president of GFWC Helena Woman’s Club (Montana).
Success For Survivors Scholarship
Each year, GFWC awards scholarships to help intimate partner abuse survivors obtain a post-secondary education that offers a chance to reshape their future by securing employment and gaining personal independence.
The Rochester Junior Women's Club
The Rochester Junior Women’s Club (Michigan) was established in 1956 with 16 members, and today has over 70 members that always come together to support one another. The club chooses three or four major charities to support and several smaller ones, donating approximately $30,000 each year. In total since its inception, the club has provided more than 1 million hours of community service, and raised more than $928,000 to support their community!