Kathleen – Saint Paul, MN
For National Volunteer Week, we’re celebrating the grassroots volunteers who power Planned Parenthood and Planned Parenthood Action Fund by sharing their stories.
Tell us a little about yourself.
“I'm a 35-year-old single lady from Saint Paul! I've lived in Saint Paul for my whole life except for a four-year stint in Chicago for college. I'm a numbers nerd that works as a reinsurance broker by day but try to give back to the community whenever I can most recently through work with the Saint Paul Jaycees. In my free time, I love to catch as many musicals as possible, Hamilton is my current fave!”
Why did you choose to volunteer for Planned Parenthood?
“Growing up in Highland Park and going to school across from Planned Parenthood, it always bothered me that women were being harassed, mostly by older men, in such a way and that experience stuck by me throughout the years. When I started thinking of ways to get involved more in politics, Planned Parenthood and the action fund jumped to the front of my mind. I knew that the organization's history and infrastructure made it one of the most effective vehicles for change and where my efforts could have maximum impact. The focus on health care, such a basic human right, coupled with supporting women, really stuck out to me and made me want to help in any way that I could.”
What’s the best and worst experience you’ve ever had volunteering?
“The best experience has simply been the sister (and brother) hood of folks that are working and having fun together to effect change. So much news is negative, but this has been a fun group that's positive and motivated to make a difference! On the negative side, the worst has really just been when people don't come to the door during canvasses or answers calls during phone banks, so feeling noneffective in my efforts, rather than actually ever having a negative interaction. But even when you get a lot of non-responses, all it takes is one good conversation to turn the whole day around.”
What motivates you to volunteer for Planned Parenthood?
“Women's rights have always been a passion of mine, but I never knew how much until trying to take them away became the forefront of the national conversation. After the 2016 election I was beyond frustrated by the state of our country. I've always kept up on the news and followed politics, but it was in a passive manner. I knew that I couldn't continue to stay on the sidelines and started to research ways to get involved. I'm unwilling to stand on the sidelines, but I also don't have a ton of free time - Planned Parenthood Action Fund makes it easy to jump in, give as much time as you can, and truly make a difference. Also, as silly as it may seem now, I never realized my privilege of always having affordable and quality health care throughout my life. It was such a basic part of my life that it didn't even stand out as something that not everyone has. I truly believe that health care should be universal and not just something for the wealthy to have access to and I will fight for that basic human right from now on!”
What would you tell someone who is afraid to do it?
“My biggest fear before starting to volunteer with Planned Parenthood was that people would be mean when speaking to them on these issues. I've been so pleasantly surprised by the actual reactions of everyday people. Most are grateful for the work that Planned Parenthood does and even if they disagree, they're usually polite, if a little abrupt, in ending a conversation. It's been a positive experience overall and definitely worth the effort.”
Want to hear more from volunteers? Check out our stories from other volunteer leaders.
Become a Volunteer
Volunteering is a great way to build power in your community and meet other folks who share your values. Sign up to become a volunteer for the Planned Parenthood Action Fund in Minnesota today.