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: Shalini Mittal
Project Coordinator Since: August 2011
Project She Leads: Stock the Shelves
About Shalini’s volunteer service
Why did you become a Project Coordinator?
It is a responsible role allowing me to be a community leader. It makes a difference in the community and provides an opportunity to give back. Being a Project Coordinator also makes me appreciate life more. The smiles on the children’s faces when reading to them, or knowing that food and clothes sorting provides basic human necessities for a family facing hardship is something which gives me unparalleled satisfaction.
What is your favorite part of being a Project Coordinator?
Being a Project Coordinator gives me a sense of leadership. It gives me a project for which I’m held accountable. I get to exercise my leadership, management and compassion skills. I also get to meet interesting people from all walks of life while we all serve together to make the community a little better.
Why do you volunteer through HandsOn Twin Cities?
At HOTC they make it easy to lead a project once you have been screened. They work with your needs and let you choose projects based on interest. There are many interesting projects and the staff is excellent and accommodating to work with. They appreciate and recognize their Project Coordinators whether that is via nominating them for recognition on TV during National Volunteer Week or through annual anniversary awards and specially held events.
Tell us about a memorable moment at your project:
I was leading Bedtime Stories where volunteers read to homeless children, allowing parents some time for themselves. Last fall I had a very memorable and special moment when 5-6 cute kids were all circled around me all trying to have me read to them individually. I had one child grabbing my leg, another my shoulder, and the remaining ones were knit tightly around listening to me narrate a story. I would also go home with drawings made by these kids especially for me and post them on my refrigerator or in my office.
Advice to someone new to volunteering:
Try out different volunteer activities until you find one that fits your personality. Give it more than one go. Certain project outcomes can be affected by weather or other factors. Have fun with it.
What do you do when you’re not volunteering?
I’m either working, studying, walking around the lakes, doing yoga, trying out local bakeries/coffee shops/wine with friends, painting/drawing or I’m at home harassing my cat. During longer breaks, I travel to SF to visit my family. I also enjoy watching foreign (Korean) or American classic TV shows/movies.
Who is your service hero/role model?
My dad is my role model. Unfortunately he deceased due to a sudden aneurysm two years ago. I look up to him for being an honest, resilient, compassionate, kind and giving individual. He is someone who is recognized in community gatherings to date for his generous, giving heart. I hope to follow his footsteps in this regard.
“Do you want to know who you are? Don’t ask. Act! Action will delineate and define you.”
Your hidden talent:
I have a really good memory. I remember things from decades ago very clearly. I can also thread eyebrows and often cook up novel delicacies with limited ingredients.
Favorite thing about living in the Twin Cities:
I love the green spring, the fall foliage and, of course, the lakes.