Wilder Volunteer Kate Hu Wins 2020 Sandy Kiernat Award for Dedication to Community Service
Every week, Kate Hu quietly makes a difference at Wilder. For two hours a week, Kate organizes files, updates databases and works on projects that save time and allow staff to focus on programs. In fact, PattiJo Verdeja, a former longtime business manager at Wilder, estimates Kate’s volunteer work has saved the equivalent of two months of a full-time employee’s time.
For her dedication to Wilder and the impact that her work has had, Kate received the 2020 Sandy Kiernat Award for Community Service. The award was established ten years ago to recognize and celebrate volunteers who most exemplify the spirit of community services demonstrated by Sandy Kiernat, a former member and chairperson of Wilder’s board of directors.
“I was surprised and honored to be the recipient. It means that the foundation values the work I do,” Kate says. “But I also felt I didn’t deserve it because there are so many Wilder volunteers who have definitely contributed more than I have.”
Volunteers make contributions in many ways, including office work
Though Kate is humble about her contributions Wilder staff see enormous value in her volunteer work. For example, Kate helped consolidate information about Latino Leadership Program alumni from multiple databases into one.
“Her attention to detail is extremely important and Kate has great questions and suggestions on how we can improve the processes as she works with it. She seeks an understanding of what she is doing in depth before moving forward. Kate’s skills and expertise in helping us organize this large amount of data has been invaluable,” says PattiJo says. She was a longtime staff member of Wilder Center for Communities, which includes community leadership programs, the Saint Paul Promise Neighborhood, and several other programs, initiatives and services.
Kate says one of her favorite projects has been helping to archive final reports by participants of the James P. Shannon Leadership Institute, which gave her a chance to see participants’ journey through the program. “Some reports were really moving, creative, and inspirational,” she says.
Volunteers find meaningful activities that fit their skills and interests
When Kate began volunteering at Wilder in 2015, she was a stay-at-home mom who did translation work. “I spent a lot of time inside of the house,” Kate says. “I thought volunteering would allow me to have contact with the world outside of my home. At the same time, I could do something useful, in Saint Paul where I live.”
At Wilder, Kate found staff who were ready to help her use her gifts to benefit the community. Wilder Volunteer Services Manager Austine Vaughn helped find the right activities for Kate. “Austine understands that I am a quiet person and office projects would be more suited to my personality (she definitely is right),” Kate says, adding that staff in Wilder Center for Communities explained projects in detail and helped her solve computer and software problems.
“Kate’s approach and dedication to her volunteer role exemplifies the spirit of volunteerism,” Austine says. “We are grateful for her work and happy that she has found a meaningful way to contribute to Wilder and the community.”