Cornerstones of Care Champions Seek Young Professionals Ready to Make a Difference

The next Champions quarterly happy hour is Thursday, June 1, at Brookside Barrio. Those interested in joining the group are invited to stop by between 5:00-7:00 p.m. to meet other Cornerstones of Care Champions and learn more about how to get involved. Friends, family members, and colleagues are welcome to attend.

Natalie Nelson first became involved with Cornerstones of Care by volunteering with the Reading Buddies program. For five years, she visited the Ozanam Campus every semester to build relationships with her two assigned kids by reading with them or playing games. Due to the transitory nature of foster care, most of the kids Nelson worked with were gone the following semester. 

For Nelson, her commitment to the Champions and Cornerstones of Care is personal and professional. During the day, she serves as the Director of Operations with the Waldo Business Association, a role that often interfaces with the Waldo community.

“I live right behind the Gillis Campus,” said Nelson. “I still have all the signed letters from the kids at Reading Buddies above my desk.”

Rebranded in 2022 as a young professionals group, the Cornerstones of Care Champions are back and ready to make a difference in the lives of children and families. The group first launched in March 2019 with a Champions Kick-Off Breakfast at the Gillis Campus and a goal to support and grow awareness of Cornerstones of Care’s mission and programs through fundraising, networking, and volunteer opportunities.

“We want our Champions to be a voice in the community and talk about Cornerstones of Care and what we want to do,” said Stefanie Caravella, Development Specialist.

Caravella and Katie Culbertson, Director of Special Events, created the group following the Cornerstones of Care merger in 2017. The organization was much larger and spread out; they needed a way to engage the community in the mission.

Like many volunteer groups, the Champions encountered their fair share of difficulties during the COVID-19 pandemic, such as significant restrictions on in-person gatherings. Despite the challenges, the group has maintained its efforts and planned and executed several unique fundraising events, including an Ugly Sweater Chiefs Watch Party, Virtual Yard Olympics, and Sips & Sweets, a wine and chocolate-pairing event.

Now, the Champions hope to rebuild their cohort with passionate young professionals aged 22-40 who want to learn more about the nonprofit sector, build valuable professional connections and experience, and raise money for Cornerstones of Care.

“This is a great way to give back to the community in smaller ways that add up to have a big impact,” said Nelson, now in her fifth year as a Champion.

As a Champion, Nelson continues to receive opportunities to volunteer with Cornerstones of Care and has helped with the Spirit Gala, the Plant Sale, and NASB’s North Pole.

For the $40 annual fee, members receive an exclusive Cornerstones of Care Champions t-shirt and discounted tickets to Cornerstones of Care special events and fundraisers. They also receive opportunities to engage in philanthropy, leadership, and advocacy, boosting their resume and preparing them for future board membership.

“I think it’s a great way to get your feet wet and volunteer with a nonprofit,” said Nelson. “It’s not 100% time-consuming, and it’s a great way to get involved with an organization and learn and grow with it.”

There are many ideas on the table for the next Champions fundraiser. The group has discussed doing a trivia night this summer at a local bar and potentially an activity this fall at the Ozanam Campus that would cater to kids and families. Whatever direction is decided, there is plenty of room for new voices and ideas on the team, and the group hopes interested individuals will apply.

If you are interested in joining the Cornerstones of Care Champions, you are invited to visit cornerstonesofcare.org/champions and fill out the application.