The MENTOR Network Charitable Foundation is pleased to announce two Community Champions for the second quarter of FY14. These employees were nominated by their colleagues and are being recognized for their work with local non-profit organizations, where they donate their time and energy to improve quality of life for their neighbors. The Champions’ chosen nonprofits will receive a $500 grant from The MENTOR Network Charitable Foundation.
Tonya is the founder and CEO of Kayla’s Village in Washington DC, a nonprofit that provides seminars to foster parents and others in order to improve the care of children. Tonya’s 20 years in the field of foster care combined with her personal experience as both a birth and foster parent motivated Tonya to start the program in 2007. “I named Kayla’s Village after my first daughter, Kayla, who passed, and Village, because it takes a village to get this work done,” she explains.
Kayla’s Village promotes the support and retention of foster and adoptive parents, guardians, and social service professionals. Their goal is to improve lives one person at a time by being the premier provider of innovative seminars and support for families, professionals and communities. Recent seminar topics include coping with grief, working with LGBTQ youth, and engaging biological parents. All seminars are approved as Continuing Education Credits through the Maryland Board of Social Work Examiners.
Tonya has been a recruiter with MENTOR Maryland since 2011. “During my first conversation with Tonya for an article we were doing on a Mentor recruitment event she hosted, I quickly realized there were a thousand powerful stories about how she has supported children by taking not just one extra step, but many —whether it’s through her work to recruit Mentors or the knowledge that she shares from more than 20 years in the field of foster care,” says Liz Flynn, Internal Communications Specialist for The MENTOR Network.
In addition to her work at MENTOR Maryland and Kayla’s Village, Tonya has furthered her dedication to the parenting community by recently self-publishing “Mommie’s Bright Sunshine,” a book that provides support to readers who have experienced the loss of a child.
An all-star volunteer, Peaceful is always looking for new ways to give back to her community. “I keep my eyes open for charities in need, especially around the holidays,” she says. “If everyone pitched in a little bit, there would be less people to help. We’re trying to make a difference to whatever extent we can.”
For the past 20 years, Peaceful has volunteered at Shiloh church in Kalona, Iowa, where she coordinates food programs for adults and children, works the switchboards and audio booths for church productions, and assists with whatever task she can. “I like working with people and it’s something I like to do to help out,” she says. “The church does a lot for the community and if I can help, I want to.”
Peaceful also organizes periodic blood drives for her fellow REM Iowa employees through the DeGowin Blood Center at the University of Iowa. She’s independently given blood to a number of charities over the years, and decided to expand her reach to include her coworkers. In addition, Peaceful coordinates canned good drives with her office for local charities in need. While REM Iowa has a fairly small office, the team makes a big difference in the community!
Peaceful has been an Administrative Assistant with REM Iowa since 1995. REM Iowa Community Services Program Director Sara Miner is delighted to see her as a Community Champions recipient. “Peaceful’s donated time and gifts help relieve the stress and pain that others may be feeling in the community,” she says. “Her kindness helps others to see that simply volunteering not only helps the people in her community, but helps motivate others to do the same.”