Volunteers of the Month: Bruce Lindemann & Weda Zoller
When an individual volunteers for a cause, his or her goal usually is to help effect change in some way. One of the many wonderful things about volunteers is the different ways they can support the same cause.
This month, we’re pleased to highlight two hardworking volunteers – Weda Zoller and Bruce Lindemann, the current and past chairs respectively of the Developmental Disabilities Services - Tools for Independence (TFI) Family Advisory Committee. Both also volunteer at the annual Larry Bregman, M.D., Educational Conference in addition to supporting TFI in other ways. Weda and Bruce got involved because they both have children served by TFI. While that may have been the mutual catalyst for their involvement, they each feel a personal connection and a need to be a part of TFI.
Weda, a human resources staff manager at AT&T, is the mother of Katie, who she describes as “a dedicated friend.” Katie is part of the Zimmerman-Horowitz Independent Living Program (Z-H ILP). Weda wanted to take on a bigger role with Katie as well as be an advocate for those with special needs. “I have no problem picking up the phone to talk with anyone at JF&CS and letting that person know my concerns or thoughts. Communication is a very large part of a whole team approach. ” Weda says. “Because of this, I hope I have helped not just my family but others as well.”
“Weda is very passionate,” says Eve Bogan, Director of TFI. “She is very energetic, hands-on and creative.” That creativity was obvious when Weda introduced the concept of “found art” to the program. “Found art” referred to everyday household items used in expressive artwork. The items were set up on a table, and the clients went around selecting what they wanted. The result was a collection of remarkable pieces of art. “Those who can’t talk or communicate were picking out the coolest things,” Weda says. “They were given their art to bring home. Their pieces were really beautiful.” Over the past few months, “found art” has evolved into the newest TFI program, ArtWORKS. Weda often makes suggestions that are helpful in evolving the program and it was her idea to develop a family handbook for those with loved ones in TFI. This handbook helps families understand what to expect and serves as a tool to help improve communication with caregivers. She worked closely with the TFI team to develop a table of contents before leading the Family Advisory Committee in its review of the drafts.
Where Weda comes from the creative side, Bruce brings an operational perspective to the table. The senior manager of internal audit at Georgia Pacific has a 29-year-old daughter, Carla, in TFI. Bruce believes a program is successful when both the volunteers and staff can work together and realize there is always room for improvement. He thinks this is one of the reasons why TFI is so effective. “The staff and administration are willing to listen, adapt and try different things. We all agree that if something doesn’t work, then we need to try something else,” he says.
While he was chair of the Family Advisory Committee, Bruce felt it was his responsibility to listen to the other parents and hear what they felt needed to be done. When caregivers and the vital role they play in each of the client’s lives came up for discussion, he wanted to ensure good caregivers were made to feel valued. As a result, the Tools for Independence Direct Support Professional Appreciation & Extra Mile Award was created to recognize direct support professional staff members for their services. Now in its third year, families nominate staff members for going above and beyond in their care for loved ones in TFI programs. Recipients receive both a cash reward and recognition from leadership and committees.
Bruce also has been exceedingly generous with his contributions to the program. For the past two years he has donated the “giveaway” bags at Bregman. “Bruce is always so thoughtful,” Eve says. “He thought it would be nice to give away something new. Last year everyone got shoulder bags. This year, with the input of the individuals, they are getting lunchboxes.”
The great work of volunteers truly can come in all forms. Different skills and ideas bring different benefits. The important part is keeping others’ best interests at heart. “Both Weda and Bruce have the ability to look beyond the needs of their own individual children and to think about the needs of all individuals in the program,” Eve says. “They give their time. They give their resources. They generate resources. They give excellent suggestions. They can be counted on. Whenever we reach out with a question, problem or challenge, they are there to help.”
For more information on volunteering with these programs, please contact 770.677.9448 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Tags: Volunteer Spotlight