Another week, another introduction. Once again, we’re proud to introduce our newest staff member, Melissa Coon, who will be helping us with our marketing operations. For her first assignment, we asked Melissa to tell us why she cares…
WRITTEN BY: MELISSA COON
I am a strategic communication specialist with a passion for health and wellness, as well as a strong faith in Christ. Currently, I serve as the Public Relations Manager at Dobies Healthcare Group, a healthcare marketing, branding and advertising firm. I write, edit, distribute and manages content for a variety of marketing communications, public relations and digital/social media projects.
I was first introduced to volunteering by my 9th grade English professor, Mr. Pries, who taught me to serve others through “random acts of kindness.” He created an extracurricular group called RAK, or Rachel’s Ambassador Klub, that met every Thursday morning before school. The club was based on the teachings of Rachel Scott, the first student killed in the Columbine High School shooting in 1999.
After her death, Rachel’s parents created Rachel’s Challenge, a non-profit, non-religious, non-political organization whose mission is to motivate, educate and bring positive change to young people around the world. An advocate for kindness and compassion, Rachel frequently found ways to serve others in her daily life by going out of her way to make them feel loved and accepted. She even wrote a two-page Code of Ethics a month before her death in hopes of inspiring others to do the same.
Through Rachel’s Challenge, her mission to ‘create a chain reaction’ of kindness has spread to thousands of individuals across the country.
As members of RAK, we carried out her mission by continually finding new ways to serve others in “random” ways. This included anything from serving food to the homeless, packaging food for those in third world countries or preparing “study packs” with motivational quotes and treats for students prepping for final exams.
After high school, I went on to attend the University of Missouri, where I studied journalism and business administration. In college, I placed volunteering on the back-burner and spent most of my time consumed by my studies and my sorority. I found ways to volunteer but only when it was required. I never really went the extra mile to serve others on my own and felt like something was missing.
It was not until I moved to Kansas City and joined Redeemer Fellowship, a local church with a commitment to glorify God through city-wide renewal, that I felt called to serve again — but I wasn’t sure how. My church offered tons of opportunities to volunteer, but I was intimidated to sign up on my own. The fitness enthusiast in me loved the idea of giving back to the community by participating in local charity races, but it didn’t provide me an opportunity to truly make a connection with those I was helping.
One evening after work, my former boss (at ARC Physical Therapy+) signed my colleagues and I up to volunteer for Uplift, a local homeless outreach organization that is based solely on donations and volunteers who commit their time to feeding and clothing the area’s homeless. My boss didn’t provide us with many details prior the outing. He just said it would be a rewarding experience.
The moment I stepped into the Uplift Distribution Center I was immediately reminded of my first volunteer experience with RAK. The old warehouse was lined with canned goods, clothes and various hygiene/medical products donated by members of the community. They reminded me of the canned goods we had packaged for those in need when I was in high school.
Over the course of the evening, we distributed the items to homeless individuals throughout the city. Initially, I was a little shy and reserved, unsure of how to approach unfamiliar individuals in the situation.
As the night progressed and the individuals opened up to me, I began to develop a real connection with them. I felt it hard to fight the urge to give them more, knowing we were limited in supplies. I was so impressed by the amount of appreciation they had for what little we could give them that I immediately went home, cleaned out my closet and returned a few days later with garbage bags full of items to donate. I encouraged my family and friends to do the same, and shortly after, I even signed them up to volunteer with me. The event proved to be just as rewarding for them as it had been for me.
Looking back on my experience, I realize how important it is to share your volunteer experience with others. Had my high school professor and current employer not taken the time to connect me with the opportunities mentioned above, I may not have had the opportunity to serve.
It’s hard to find ways to serve, especially when you have to seek it out on your own. That is why I felt so compelled to join The Call KC. It’s the “easy button” for individuals looking for ways to make use of their talents and desire to help.
Regardless of whether or not you have volunteered in the past, if you are looking for ways to help others, The Call KC is for you.