Contributed by: Makenna Brandt, Community Relations Intern
Clarisa Ramirez is our Volunteer of the Month for August! Congratulations Clarisa!
Clarisa began volunteering with GEN in 2007 as a chauffeuse (female chauffeur) for high school girls to and from programs. In 2014, Clarisa began helping out with Pathfinder. She chaired the GENthusiast Society (now the Girl Advocacy League), and helped it grow to over 175 members. She now serves as a GAL’s liaison to the board, as well as a GEN board member.
We asked Clarisa some questions to find out why she loves GEN, and why GEN loves her:
1. Why did you choose to volunteer with GEN in the first place?
Shortly after moving to Austin, I was introduced to the organization by a friend who knew I was job-hunting and needed to network. I fell in love with GEN’s mission right away and always knew I would get involved with them in some capacity in the future, so I’m glad things came full-circle.
2. What about GEN has made you stick around for so long?
Volunteering with GEN never feels like work for me. Plus, I love all of the women who are deeply involved in the organization. They’re my tribe!
3. What is your favorite part about volunteering with GEN?
Learning the skills GEN teaches girls is invaluable to me. I’ve seen friends actually practice these skills, such as breathing techniques for stress management, and I implement some of them in my day-to-day life. My book club adheres to GEN’s “Ground Rules.”
4. What would your advice be to other volunteers?
Know that you can be your true self. Nobody will judge you, even if you end up crying, and the girls will just love you even more for being authentic and honest with them.
5. What qualities about yourself do you think made GEN choose you to be Volunteer of the Month?
I try to make my inner 12-year old proud through my actions.
6. Is there a particularly inspiring moment you’ve witnessed when volunteering with the girls?
It’s always inspiring to connect to the girls on what they want out of life. It’s simple, but one of the most inspiring things that happened to me while i was volunteering at Pathfinder was when a teen girl approached me after a panel about entrepreneurship. She told me that a) she wanted to attend the university I attended and b) she wanted to start her own retail clothing business, which is what I did in college. I had mentioned that fact as a minor detail, but I’m glad it made an impact on this girl. I believe that people need to witness (or at least hear about) histories of successes to feel empowered, and I’m glad I was able to prove to her that it was possible to start a retail business at a young age by being an example.