At a Foresters member involvement activity, Kathleen Thomas and her family put together a care package for Trials for Hope, an organization that strives to provide sustenance, sanitation, and loving relationships to those who go without. After assembling the kit, Kathleen struck up a conversation with Jonathan, the organization’s founder who was onsite to accept the generous donation.
“I was surprised by the immense need,” says Kathleen. “The organization goes through over 70 kits each week and is consistently in need of canned food to help the homeless.”
Inspired to help, Kathleen organized a care package activity to provide essential items to the men, women and families living in Cleveland’s inner city. Through funding from Foresters Community Grants, resourceful coupon-cutting, bulk discounts negotiated with local retailers, and the priceless help of local Foresters member volunteers, Kathleen was able to fill 50 hygiene kits and 50 food bags to the brim.
“I love to volunteer and I actually feel incomplete unless I’m helping somebody,” says Kathleen. “When I was younger, I didn’t have the opportunity to do a lot of things, so I want to help others fulfill their dreams.”
As a Foresters Council Vice President for the North East Ohio branch, Kathleen is no stranger to Foresters volunteer activities. But it wasn’t until Foresters Community Grants program launched to all members in 2013 that she took the lead to organize her own community activities.
“I had always attended local Foresters activities so once I had the opportunity to run my own activities through the granting program, it was a natural progression,” says Kathleen. “I try to organize different types of activities each time to spread the impact across the community.”
What’s next for Kathleen? She’ll be carrying out Foresters Prepared with Care, an activity developed by Foresters and the American Red Cross to help prepare families and communities for emergencies and disasters. At the event, members will receive preparedness training by the American Red Cross, assemble preparedness kits and then help distribute them within the local community.
“This activity is personal to me,” says Kathleen. “A few years ago, some of my family members were in a house fire, and they lost everything except the clothes on their backs. Luckily, the Red Cross was there to help. Through this activity, Kathleen is able to give back to an organization that gave so much to her family, while also helping local families in her community become prepared.