Project Coordinators are volunteers who lead service projects in HandsOn Twin Cities’ Impact Now program. Impact Now projects take place at a variety of local nonprofits, last between 1-3 hours and require no advance training or ongoing commitment. Projects vary from serving meals to sorting donations to reading with children.
Name: Sara Benzkofer
Project Coordinator Since: May 2011
Project She Leads: Bedtime Stories
About Sara’s volunteer service
Tell us about the project you lead.
I lead Bedtime Stories, a monthly project at the Catholic Charities Family Service Center in Maplewood, where volunteers read and play with the kids, so the parents can have a bit of time to themselves.
Why did you become a Project Coordinator?
I have been a life-long volunteer, but wanted to take on more responsibility. I wanted to gain experience in volunteer management. I wanted to have a consistent volunteer experience and make a difference in one spot. The Project Coordinator position was a perfect fit!
What is your favorite part of being a Project Coordinator?
I love hanging out with the kids each month. They are so energetic! They love reading and drawing and playing games. I also have enjoyed getting to know the volunteers. I’ve had a number of volunteers return for multiple times and it’s great to see them each month.
Why do you volunteer through HandsOn Twin Cities?
HandsOn is a great organization. It connects people with volunteer opportunities that fit their values, schedules and commitment level. I wanted to be a small part of making those connections.
Memorable moment at your project:
Working with kids is always interesting! One memorable moment was when one of the children got his head stuck in one of the chairs. Yikes! Thankfully, we were able to get him out without any harm done. Another memorable moment was when we had a small group of older kids who weren’t interested in reading stories or coloring, so one of the volunteers decided to make fortune tellers out of paper and taught each of them how to make them too. The kids loved it and spent the entire time running around asking people their fortunes. My volunteers are so creative!
Advice to someone new to volunteering:
Be open. Ask questions. Enjoy yourself. Repeat.
What do you do when you’re not volunteering?
I love living in the Twin Cities, so I try to explore it as much as I can; attending the theater, going to concerts and museums and eating good food. I’m also very close to my family and enjoy spending time with them, especially my nieces and nephew.
Who is your service hero/role model?
My parents. They volunteered throughout my childhood and have continued throughout my adulthood. I learned to value giving back to my community and to see that I’m an integral part of making my community a better place to live and work and play.
“You can be the change you wish to see in the world” Gandhi.
Your hidden talent:
I’m an amateur photographer. I love taking photos of everyday life. I love playing with my camera and finding new angles and techniques to elevate these everyday photos.
Favorite thing about living in the Twin Cities:
There’s so many! In addition to what I mentioned above, I also love the farmer’s market and all of the wonderful lakes and parks.