Lauren Espy and Lizzie Hickman
The 2019-20 school year is up and running in Hamilton County. Teachers are at the forefront of of learning, but they need support.
This is where volunteers step in, enriching students' educational experiences by sharing career expertise.
Kimberly Strong, Public Information Specialist with the City of Chattanooga, has volunteered through the Chattanooga Chamber of Commerce in Hamilton County schools for over seven years and is 2018-19 Volunteer of the Year. Chattanooga Trend caught up with Strong on her favorite parts of volunteering.
Trend: What inspired you to become a Public Information Specialist?
Strong: The inspiration behind my career choice has been being able to work with our community. I really love working with our diverse community and educating them on a particular subject matter. Whether it was during my time as our City’s Recycling Coordinator to my current position as a Public Information Specialist – I have had the pleasure of being in community outreach my entire career.
Trend: Is there a career accomplishment/accolade that is particularly meaningful to you?
Strong: Although I have received several accolades over my career with the City of Chattanooga, the most recent accomplishment that I am humbled by is my appointment as Chairman over the Diversity and Inclusion Committee with the American Public Works Association, and being a session speaker for PWX which is American Public Works’ national conference.
Trend: Why have you chosen to volunteer with Chamber programs?
Strong: I wanted to seize the opportunity to give back to the school system that did so much for me and afforded me with opportunities at an early age that I still incorporate into my career to this day.
I want to continue to seek out those opportunities so I can be of service and pass on skill sets that I have to assist our youth and adults. I’m really grateful when I receive a phone call from someone whom I met during an event, asking for further guidance.
Trend: Why should others volunteer with these programs?
Strong: I think everyone should take the opportunity to volunteer with the programs offered through the Chamber of Commerce if their schedule allows. It gives you such a sense of pride to be able to give back to the community and it doesn’t cost you one cent. The opportunity is priceless and it impacts students’ lives.
The Chamber staff does an incredible job of training every volunteer, which gives you more confidence to do a successful job.
Trend: Is there anything else you’d like to add?
Strong: I would like to thank the Chamber of Commerce for being the vessel for programming that has allowed me to do something that I have always been so passionate about and that is volunteering. My earliest memory of being a good volunteer came from the late Mrs. Catherine Jackson. She was my elementary school teacher at Orchard Knob Elementary School. Those skills she taught me back then are still embedded in me to this day. Lastly – a quote from Sherry Anderson: 'Volunteers don’t get paid, not because they’re worthless, but because they’re priceless.'
For more information on how to get involved in supporting local education, email Mattie Moran at [email protected].