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"For almost as long as I can remember – really since I was four years old – my Irish heritage has been a part of my life. My parents originally enrolled my older sister, Morrigan, and I in Irish Step dancing classes in Connecticut with the simple hope of us learning about our culture. Little did they know they would spend the next fifteen years traveling the country for shows, festivals and competitions.
Fast forward to today, and my sister and I are now both young adults living in Southern Maine. We’re busy with work and family, but still we make time to keep Irish Dance a part of our lives. One way we do this is by volunteering with the Irish American Club of Maine as Irish Ceili Instructors.
Irish Ceili is a form of Irish Dance similar to square dancing, or contra dancing. It is largely social and appropriate for just about any age or ability level. Dance formation ranges from groups of two to sixteen, and the steps are often progressive, allowing multiple groups to interact with each other during the course of one tune – which, if you have a live band, could go on forever! The term Ceili can also be used to describe the social gathering where the traditional dancing and music takes place.
For our volunteer work, Morrigan and I teach three, six-week sessions of Ceili classes throughout the year. We also coordinate the dancing portion of monthly Ceilis held at a local Irish pub, and hold the occasional advanced Ceili workshop, complete with potluck dinner.
Having the volunteer benefit through Tom’s of Maine means that I get to help one of my favorite local organizations keep Irish culture alive in Maine, in a way that ultimately keeps my dance skills in check… while also being a lot of fun!”
"I do a lot of work for the Animal Welfare Society. This includes socializing animals, counseling prospective adopters, answering questions, facilitating adoptions, and answering phones. On average I’m at the shelter three times a week for a total of 10 hours. The Tom's benefit makes a huge difference, because I can be at the shelter during the work week, which is when the shelter has less volunteers available to assist them.
This is one of the many benefits setting Tom’s apart from other employers. It respects the employees by acknowledging that we each have causes about which we are passionate, and makes me value Tom’s as an employer/partner because I feel happier and more fulfilled. Because of the volunteer benefit, I can make a difference in the lives of the many homeless animals in York County and help the humans who care for them on a daily basis – something that I hold dear. Tom's not only talks the talk but walks the walk where community service is concerned."
"Growing up, my family always hosted exchange students which planted a seed of curiosity and love of foreign cultures and languages. I ended up studying Spanish in college and will always be very passionate about that particular language and culture. When first accepting my job at Tom’s, I was worried that I would no longer have a need to speak Spanish and would forget it quickly. I was excited to learn that one of the great benefits Tom’s offers is their volunteer initiative of encouraging employees to use 5% of their paid work time to volunteer. To me, this meant I could still incorporate what I’m passionate about into my everyday job.
A friend connected me with the right people, and I found the perfect fit, Adelante Hispanic Achievers. This organization provides opportunities for Hispanic youth and their families to gain the skills and knowledge necessary to function cross-culturally and to contribute to society as informed and pro-active citizens. Cities throughout the United States are experiencing a rapid rise in Spanish-speaking populations which often lack the resources needed to succeed and contribute to the community. Adelante Hispanic Achievers was chartered to address such challenges in our city by empowering Louisville’s Hispanic youth and helping them succeed in four critical areas of development: personal, social, cultural and educational.
My role with Adelante is as a tutor and mentor in an after-school program. This year I’ve been working closely with Christian and Karen two hours a week. We start our sessions with a creative writing prompt followed by other learning activities, homework and conversation. I’ve experienced firsthand that learning in a second language can be very challenging. Many of the students don’t speak English in their homes, so giving them a safe and comfortable place to practice is important. My favorite part about volunteering with the kids is observing their growing confidence, listening to their future plans and goals, seeing them smile and receiving hugs and appreciation from both the kids and their parents.”
"The Tom’s of Maine volunteer benefit is dear to my heart. It means I can share my passion for Tom’s while helping to make my community a better place. I love knowing Tom’s supports my other passions and it is one of the reasons I started with the company years ago. How awesome it is to be able to take precious work time and share my talents with others!
I love to run. One day while running with my friend, she told me about her experience at Girls on the Run (GOTR), an organization that combines interactive curriculum and running to inspire self-respect and healthy lifestyles in pre-teen girls. I loved the idea and became a coach. My first season was wonderful. I was inspired to see girls encouraging each other, grabbing hands to help one another finish the planned distance. My heart broke the each time I heard a girl say she was ugly or slow, and later rejoiced when the same girl gained confidence and shouted “I am perfect the way I am!” What an amazing experience to have, watching each girl uncover her extraordinary potential, demonstrate courage and generally embrace being “fantabulous.” Since then I’ve raised money for GOTR, presented medals to participants and I look forward to every new season.”