Kitty – Minneapolis, 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.
“By day, I work for a fortune 500 company but outside of work, I am a volunteer, activist, entrepreneur, trivia host, reproductive rights advocate and feminist.
I admit that the last presidential election lit the proverbial fire underneath me to get involved but I have been interested and was somewhat involved in both community engagement and politics since high school. Once I entered college, I became increasingly drawn to art history and anthropology, primarily due to the fact that both of these fields allowed unique perspectives into the way people lived/felt, how society reacted/reacts and can reveal the inner most personal thoughts/actions of the artist or persons being studied.
During my time in school, I began volunteering with a community arts organization. I spent several years there in various roles with the organization, including directing their yearly art fair, coordinating gallery shows, social media building & much more. After a brief hiatus, I returned to this organization during the beginning of my enrollment into a graduate program, where I stayed on for another three years as the Gallery Director and Interim Executive Director of the arts facility.
I continued my education at St. Mary’s University where I obtained my Masters in Arts and Cultural Management and met my business partner and co-host/founder of Touchy Subject Trivia, Krista aka Cheeky. In 2017, we created Cheeky Kitty, an events organization that looks to modernize kitschy events for Minnesotans with Morals. We seek to engage others by creating fun, modern events that support local charities and nonprofits.
Last summer I was also asked to join the Planned Parenthood Super Activist group. I am currently serving in Minnesota’s 3rd Congressional District as the Events and Outreach Captain.”
Why did you choose to volunteer for Planned Parenthood?
“I had always been aware of the services and support Planned Parenthood had to offer, having lived in a progressive household, being a product of the internet and also just general curiosity. However, it wasn’t until I was a patient at Planned Parenthood that I began to see what they offer in a completely new and different perspective. When I entered the Vandalia clinic, I was shocked at how diverse and full the waiting room was. I was shy and nervous to be there but as soon as I spoke to the receptionist, I was put at ease. They worked with me to make my visit affordable, the physicians and nurses made sure I was comfortable but above all else, they made me reassured. Reassured about my choices, about knowing my body and being safe within this place and in their care.
Now, I am in a place where I don’t need to worry about affording basic health care, but I know that is a luxury and that some people, even those who I hold most close, are still uninsured and unable to afford even the most basic health care. We need to fight to keep the doors open, services affordable and care accessible for everyone.
When we were creating Cheeky Kitty, we knew that Planned Parenthood was an organization we wanted to support immediately. Cheeky has been part of ACES before I also became involved but the everyday, ongoing fight Planned Parenthood has to fight in many states just to offer basic health services is enraging. But the direct attacks being made by the current administration against Planned Parenthood was the fuel a lot of people needed to get up, get out and get active. The event we’ve created is special to us for many reasons but it’s also a unique fundraising environment, in that it’s a monthly, ongoing charitable event, where a good handful of the participants are repeat guests and everyone is engaged, having fun and learning – all while giving back to Planned Parenthood!”
What’s the best and worst experience you’ve ever had volunteering?
“The best experience I’ve ever had was canvassing last summer when we spoke with 83-year-old Elsie, who’d just gotten home from running some errands. As we walked up her driveway, she stopped what she was doing, walked over to us and after we introduced ourselves, she stopped us and asked us to step back 3 feet. My partner and I both revealed afterward how nervous that comment made us, but in reality Elsie, a lifelong Republican, just wanted us to talk about progressive candidates 3 feet back–IN THE SHADE! We ended up talking to Elsie for quite some time who assured us before leaving that she will be voting for anyone who’s against Trump.
Worst Experience? Phone banking 2-3 weeks before an election when no one wants to answer their phones because we’ve been kicking butt and keeping people informed and engaged them from the jump! (so maybe not so bad)”
What would you tell someone who is afraid to do it?
“I know I’ve heard this somewhere else but JUST DO IT. You honestly won’t know what it’s like to volunteer until you actually do it. I was terrified the first time I went canvassing. I kept imagining myself walking up someone’s perfectly groomed cobblestone path, to their giant brass fixture laden door only to be yelled at and kicked off their property. Well, 1. That didn’t happen and 2. My first conversation actually made me want to do MORE!”
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.