We love our mothers at buildOn. Considering Mother’s Day is right around the corner, we decided to pay tribute to all of the wonderful women in our lives by interviewing staff about their mothers – and we even had the opportunity to talk to their moms. What we learned is that the fruit doesn’t fall far from the tree; staff said their mothers inspired and motivated them to do the type of service work we do at buildOn.
Tom Silverman, Global Chapter Manager
My mother has inspired me to serve others through her own actions. Even though we didn’t volunteer at homeless shelters or food banks when I was growing up, my mom has always put others first. Whether it is taking care of older relatives, hosting every single holiday at her home, or making endless sacrifices to strengthen those around her, my mother has demonstrated a spirit of service in everything she does. She is Italian, so you can’t go to her house without her smothering you with food and attention. Her greatest service is making everyone around her feel loved, appreciated and supported. My mother’s spirit has influenced me greatly and has inspired me to live a life of service as well.
Catarina Schwab, Vice President of Development
My mom was a foreign language teacher for her whole career and was actually the buildOn Co-Advisor at New Canaan High School in CT for many years. She and my Dad are really involved with buildOn and introduced my sister and me to buildOn. What I got from her is a joy for life, her determination and – hopefully – her incredibly loving nature. She’s a very loving person; always nurturing, always selfless in her guidance to her daughters and students and inspired many people to aim higher, do better and be happier. Not to mention she is the most stylish and beautiful person I know.
Christina Norman, Catarina’s mother
I taught in New Canaan high school and I started a buildOn club there. We used to send one or two students per year a broad to Nicaragua and Nepal. We did a lot of community projects in the Bronx, and in Bridgeport, Connecticut. It was very nice for our children to work with children from different circumstances. Geoffrey (Christina’s husband) and I grew up in Europe, and our parents were givers of some funds, but were never involved in service work. And growing up in a socialistic country (Sweden), it was very much that the state took care of things. Our daughters, growing up in America and going to schools where volunteering was a priority… we were quick to learn from them. They are really the guiding light. We keep learning from them.
Clarisa Ramirez, Social Media Manager
My mom, Yolanda, is energetic, opinionated, stylish and a heck of a cook! My family and I grew up overseas, and living in so many different countries brought us closer as a unit. It forced us to be creative and to be resourceful, and my mother always is. She never limits herself in what she can do, whether it’s throwing a successful fundraising dinner party or teaching people how to compost or donating her time and energy to help my ailing grandfather and aunt living miles away in Texas. The greatest thing I learned from her is to think big. She has always believed my sister and I were destined for great things, and that’s probably why I ended up working with the super-energetic and optimistic people at buildOn. To my mother in Doha, Qatar: Happy Mother’s Day!
Quinton Snodgrass, Vice President, Midwest
Quinton is celebrating his first Mother’s Day with his wife Abigail and their eight-month old daughter, Olive. On celebrating the big day with his wife: We’re building a house! We might be picnicking on the newly sanded floors of the house that we’re trying to move into. I built Abigail a handmade work-bench for her art room, because she hasn’t had an art room in the last six or seven years.
On his mom: Spunky! She’s about 4’11” and is always taking on more work than any other two people could at the same time. She never says “no” to projects and she’s always busy. She’s done a lot of volunteer work for the community, has served on boards – and for Thanksgiving she invites not just family, but everybody from the neighborhood to come over.
She was always very supportive of the decisions that I’ve made. When I went to college, my very first internship was with a nonprofit organization, even though I went to business school. I went into nonprofits because I felt more committed to the mission that I did for the for-profit jobs that I’ve had, and she was very supportive in my decision to do that.
Tre Stroud, Quinton’s mother
I hate to sound like a mom, bur he was the best child a parent could want. He was as easygoing as he is today, and always fun to be around.
I’ve always been involved in not-for-profits and volunteered on boards, and I actually referred him to his first job working at an afterschool program, and his second job was in United Way at summer camps. He got his start doing things like that. And I did a lot of things and he attended a lot of meetings and a lot of functions as a young man with me.
I wasn’t one of those ‘mommy play games.’ I was one of those mommies who was, ‘let’s do a project,’ or ‘you can read, figure it out.’ For Mother’s Day he got in the habit where he would always make me something. He never ceases to surprise me with some of the things that he’s made. He once said, “Mom, you got to sew up my clothes.” And I told him to learn how to sew. “You know what? Figure it out. And he made me a stuffed pound puppy for mother’s day. That was one of the sweet things. He’s made me lamps and all kinds of things for the house. I said, “I am so impressed. Wow, good for you.”
He maintains a tremendous sense of humor in whatever he wants to do. His ability to connect with so many people pleases me and makes me very proud of him because he’s carried it on to his career. And I’ve vey glad he chose non-for-profit as a career.
Asha Vitatoe, Program and Service Coordinator, California
I want to give a shout out to my mother Yvette Vitatoe and grandmother Juanita Wilson. They have always been extremely supportive of everything that I do, and my work with buildOn is no exception. My mother has cooked and volunteered on a number of occasions. This picture was taken at our most recent Regional Service Project, the Bucket Walk, and although it was my grandmother’s first buildOn event she promised it will not be her last. She told (my co-worker) Chad, “She’d been building on for years. Now it’s just official and she has a T-shirt”.
Jamie Pelusi, Program and Trek Coordinator, California
I remember being a kid and going with my mom to the Veterans Hospital, where she volunteered in the gift shop. I was so excited just to be spending time with her, but as the time passed that excitement transformed into something bigger. She would let me push the vacuum (that’s right, push; it was one of those non-electric roller vacuums), and I remember feeling that feeling for the first time. Doing something small and feeling big. As I grew up, my mom took me to volunteer with her more and more. We went to soup kitchens, Special Olympics, elderly homes, etc. I started volunteering on my own and really fell in love with serving with others. That feeling of being in community with those around me started in those early days with my Mom in the gift shop and has grown into my life’s journey. Although my path has led me far from home, she has always been my biggest supporter and really the light that guides my way. That’s why I have BIG love for my Mom.