Joanne Kempel, Cradle Volunteer Extraordinaire
It didn't take Joanne Kempel long to know she had found something special. After just a few hours volunteering at The Cradle's annual holiday party, she was planning on returning.
The 65 year-old commercial underwriter had been looking for a fulfilling way to spend her weekends. Her two sons had grown up, but grandkids wouldn't be arriving for a while. A Skokie native, Joanne had grown up hearing about The Cradle. She had learned we needed volunteers for our 2017 holiday party and decided to help.
That year she worked the Dreidel Room: She interacted with the kids and made sure everyone who wanted to could get involved in the festivities. As she learned more about The Cradle and spoke to Cradle families about their adoption journey, she became hooked. There was something special about it, she discovered. It gave her a warm and fuzzy feeling, so she kept coming back.
Sometimes it wasn't so glamorous: Joanne once spent her Saturday cleaning and bleaching the family room. "It's just something has to get done," she said. "I didn't mind that at all."
She also volunteered for The Cradle's Open House. There, she made coffee, helped to clean tables and ensured there was enough food to go around. She even brought the balloons and arrived early to make signs. While she worked behind the scenes at Open House, Joanne learned her favorite part of volunteering was interacting with kids and family.
This summer she helped out at The Cradle's golf outing (where worked on the raffle) and also at the Cradle Picnic. Though she was responsible for coordinating the delicious picnic food—her biggest responsibility yet—her favorite part was spending time with the kids. "I just get a kick out of them," she says.
Even though she couldn't make the gala, Joanne plans to continue to volunteer for various Cradle events—she says it makes her feel fulfilled. "It's a great feeling," she says. "It's giving back to the community, and The Cradle is a great cause."
Joanne says that people she's worked with at The Cradle are great: "They are really just kind and gentle people."
For it's part, The Cradle is especially grateful to have her. "Joanne has been a wonderful asset to our volunteer team," says Noelle Moore, volunteer coordinator at The Cradle. "She always jumps at the chance to help out if she is available and is really here for the mission of The Cradle."
For those considering helping out Joanne recommends just diving in. It's never too soon, or too late, and The Cradle works to accommodate everyone's availability.
To learn more about volunteering with The Cradle, visit our volunteering page.