We're proud to kick off "Raise Your VOX," a q/a with some of VOX's greatest assets. In our first edition, Manager of Development and Outreach Susan Landrum interviews VOX adult volunteer Ben Hammett Walkuski about his experience working with and for teens.
Ben, tell us a little bit about yourself.
My name is Ben Hammett Walkuski, and I am a proud VOX volunteer and VOX Story Coach. Like many young adults, I graduated from college unsure of my passion or purpose in life. After dabbling in a wide variety of roles in different industries, I was very lucky to land in nonprofit fundraising at a consulting firm here in Atlanta. This opportunity provided me with the kind of exposure and experience I sorely needed, and it helped me to build a strong foundation of communication and fundraising skills.
What made you want to volunteer at VOX?
Through a colleague who used to sit on the VOX Board of Directors, I began attending VOX events and helping out here and there. Eventually I formalized my involvement by volunteering to serve as a Story Coach and on the 2014 Homecoming Event Committee. Giving back in my small way to an organization like VOX is enormously meaningful to me: I am helping to nurture and strengthen both the next generation of young professionals, as well as an outstanding nonprofit organization.
You are a Story Coach volunteer - can you tell us a little bit about the experience of working with Jolisa on her story?
As a Story Coach volunteer, I have the opportunity to engage one-on-one with VOX teens by providing feedback and mentorship on the articles they write for the newspaper. Not only does this provide the teens with a positive adult relationship, but it challenges and strengthens the teens' and my communication skills and hopefully results in better and more [high impact] journalism.
You also volunteered this year on our Homecoming Committee - what did you love about the event?
Back in October, VOX hosted its second annual Homecoming Dance and Awards Dinner, which is the organization's largest fundraising event. What I loved about this event was that it allowed all of us to go back to school, even just for an evening. Set in the MLK Recreation Center Gymnasium, the event blended the look and feel of a classic high school social with a contemporary fundraising gala. Mixing and mingling with VOX teens, Board, staff, donors, and volunteers really illustrated for me the enormous importance and impact of this organization within the lives of the teens it serves and the community at large.
Finally, we're so lucky to have you at VOX and look forward to keeping you involved. What are you excited about for VOX's future?
The theme of this year's Homecoming was "Shining a Light on Greater Atlanta," and "vox" is a Latin word meaning "voice." What I love most about VOX Teen Communications is its ability to empower young people to discover their voices and shine their lights into the world.
Ben Hammett Walkuski is a Development Officer with the United Way of Greater Atlanta and a freelance writer. He and his partner live in midtown Atlanta. His pictured above with Jolisa, his VOX teen story coach partner. You can read Jolisa's most recent story here.