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My Richmond Fed

Investing in Others: Anna’s Volunteerism Story

Anna Mooney volunteers

From helping the Virginia Department of Health with COVID-19 vaccinations as a member of the Community Emergency Response Team to volunteering with Southern Baptist Disaster Relief to help victims of ice storms, flooding and Tropical Storm Isaias, Anna put a variety of skills to work — including operating a chainsaw, providing onsite stress counseling, taking inventory of donated food, and scooping mud and muck from flooded houses.

Yet, when asked if her volunteer activities increased during the pandemic, she said “it actually slowed down.”

Anna — a senior business intelligence architect and member of our Ability Beyond the Label (ABLe) employee resource network — is driven by her faith and motivated by the joy of helping others who are experiencing difficult situations. Knowing that she has met a need and made a positive impact on someone’s life fulfills her as a community volunteer.

“Giving my time to focus on others helps me remember the world doesn’t revolve around me and to be thankful for what I have and how far I’ve come on my journey,” she said. “God has given me a gift to share with others and I found the best way to share it is to meet people where they are — walk beside them in the lowly times when they feel there’s nothing left. I enjoy showing people in a tangible way that they aren’t forgotten — that they are loved and cherished.”

Southern Baptist Disaster Relief provides training and certification with the same credentials as the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), allowing her to access restricted areas. Anna also is certified as an Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) and in Critical Incident Stress Management (CISM), enabling her to provide both medical assistance and stress counseling to disaster victims. CISM focuses on providing short-term psychological help for dealing with immediate, identifiable problems so that people can return to their daily routines more quickly and with less likelihood of experiencing post-traumatic stress.

“I love being a part of someone’s story, to be that anchor and encourage them to keep moving through the storm,” Anna said. “I get such excitement to see how they are doing a year later and hearing their testimony.”

Anna Mooney and a horse

In normal times, and in addition to the disaster relief assignments, Anna volunteers two days a week at Wings of Hope Ranch in Montpelier, Virginia, a Christian ministry that rescues neglected horses and rehabilitates them to provide opportunities to children facing conflicts or challenges. She hopes to return soon to pairing other volunteers with a horse and a child, and tending to barn chores.

While her volunteer schedule seems quite full, Anna notes that the key to finding the time to volunteer is to find the right type of activity for you. “Volunteering shouldn’t feel exhausting, it should be exciting,” she noted. “Volunteering isn’t just giving to the poor or doing something nice for someone else; it can be anything. It’s sharing your life/skills with others — you can find formal nonprofits looking for volunteers or you can do your own thing.”

For example, she pointed out that if you like to run, try partnering with an animal shelter and take dogs on runs with you. If coding interests you, partner with organizations that teach coding to kids. If your talent is knitting or crocheting, hospitals might accept baby caps. If you enjoy being around others, volunteer at a nursing home to play games with residents.

“Volunteering can be a checkbox or it can be investing in someone else,” Anna added. “Only you can decide which one it is for you.”

As for Anna, she appreciates the opportunity to bring her authentic self to every volunteer activity. “I’m not there for glory or to collect my feel-good points for helping someone in need. I show up when everyone else leaves and I walk beside them. I give them 100% of me, because that’s what they need in that moment.”

Learn more about our volunteer leave benefit and apply today to become part of our #MyRichmondFed story!

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