Lauren Dunford: inquisitive, driven & passionate

Lauren DunfordThe Prevention Center runs on staff, volunteers, passion, and a lot of pastries. Everything from our 24/7 crisis hotline, the TALKLine, to our Tuesday night dinners, to our community events, are staffed by dedicated volunteers. They are phenomenal, and so is their leader, Lauren Dunford. Lauren recruits, manages, and trains our volunteers (amongst a host of other things) and she makes it look easy. I am proud to introduce you to my comrade in name, (the other) Lauren.

Q: Tell me about your life.
A: I was born and raised in Dayton, Ohio. When I wasn’t in school, I spent most of my childhood in a dance studio. After college I moved to the Bay Area in search of adventure and an opportunity to see my nephew and niece grow up in the Sunshine State they call home. I spent three years as an AmeriCorps member working in education in East Oakland. I currently live in Oakland, Calif and perform with two traditional African dance companies in my spare time. I do a little freelance babysitting too. I’m engaged to marry a brilliant and dashingly handsome bass player in August 2016!

Q: What are you most passionate about?
A: Art, in all of its magnificent forms — because I’ve experienced the joy it can bring to the soul at any age. Also, educational equity, racial justice, and issues impacting oppressed communities — because dismantling systemic racism requires passion from a critical mass of people and I want to be one of those people. People power: volunteers.

Q: Why did you come to join the Prevention Center team?
A: I spent 2.5 years working for a nonprofit resource center whose mission was to strengthen local nonprofits. Although I love the nonprofit sector, it’s not nonprofits that I’m passionate about, it’s the issues nonprofits address. When I stumbled on the Volunteer Coordinator position at the Prevention Center it was kismet. I had been searching for a nonprofit with a mission related to children, families, and vulnerable communities — the Prevention Center is all of that and more!

Q: How did you get into recruiting and wrangling volunteers?
A: I had been working as a teacher for two years and realized that if I wanted to continue to work in education, that I would need to find a role more catered to my strengths. I found a position open at an educational nonprofit for Volunteer Coordinator. I had no idea that Volunteer Coordination was a field that even existed so I was elated to discover that it not only exists, but that it is also incredibly rewarding. I was sold. Here I remain, with no end in sight!

Q: What’s a typical day like for you?
A: I get a lot of emails from prospective volunteers. After about an hour answering emails, I read through applications and resumes to prepare for interviews with applicants. If there are interviews scheduled that day, I’ll give a tour of our building and sit with each applicant to explore which volunteer opportunities best suit their interests and skills. Next, I might meet with a co-worker to discuss details for an upcoming family event that requires support from volunteers. I’ll likely spend some time afterward ordering supplies or preparing materials for the event. Then, I may do some general work related to volunteer recruitment – creating flyers, posting ads, registering for fairs, or setting up meetings with contacts from local universities, businesses, or community groups. Towards the end of the day, a group of volunteers might arrive to prepare a meal for our families, assemble materials for an upcoming workshop, or stuff envelopes for a mass mailing. I’ll greet them, show them around our kitchen/their workspace, and stay close in case any questions arise. After cleanup, I’m headed home.

Q: How would you describe your personal mission?
A: Help people.

Q: Do you volunteer?
A: I’m ashamed to say that I don’t volunteer much these days. I do take a shift on the Prevention Center’s 24/7 TALKLine each week. I volunteer about six days a year with World Arts West, the nonprofit that hosts the San Francisco Ethnic Dance festival. I’ve attended a volunteer training for the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights and hope to start volunteering with them consistently soon.

Q: If you could change the world, what would you do?
A: Put compassion in everyone’s hearts.

Q: What makes you angry / sad?
A: Child abuse. Systemic racism. Educational inequity. Mass incarceration. Police brutality. Poor communication.

Q: What makes you hopeful / happy?
A: Volunteers. Their willingness to do so much and ask for nothing in return floors me daily. Also, bubble tea and warm beaches.

Q: What’s your favorite thing about San Francisco?
A: Oakland? I guess that’s cheating.🙂 My favorite thing about SF is that there is always something to do. Whether it is experiencing art, the outdoors, great food, or festivals, it’s a city that is super easy to have a “staycation” all year long.

Q: How can someone someone become a volunteer at the Prevention Center?
A: Email me at volunteer[@]sfcapc.org or attend an upcoming information session.

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