Name: Mathew Beaulieu
Project Coordinator Since: January 2013
Project Coordinator For: Bedtime Stories
Project Coordinators are volunteers who lead projects in HandsOn Twin Cities’ Impact Now program. Impact Now projects are open to anyone who wants to volunteer – come once or to as many as you like!
Tell us about the project you lead:
Bedtime Stories is an organized (yet, shall we say, somewhat fluid) play time for children ages 3-11 at the Maplewood Family Service Center. We provide a safe and fun atmosphere for children to express themselves through a variety of activities that the volunteer group decides to support on a given evening. We also provide value in giving the parents a bit of time to themselves, while knowing that their children are safe nearby.
Why did you become a Project Coordinator?
Ever since I was a kid, I have enjoyed helping those around me. Even when times seem impossible, I try to stay positive and I try to make a positive impact on those around me. In 2012 someone recommended that I look in to HandsOn Twin Cities as an organization that could help connect me to projects where I could dedicate time, and through which I could learn more about the non-profit industry in the Twin Cities. I was lucky because at the time there was a Project Coordinator opening, so I eagerly contacted HandsOn and I have been having fun ever since.
Why do you volunteer through HandsOn Twin Cities?
HandsOn Twin Cities provides a wonderful venue where I can look for relevant opportunities around me, in my neighborhood. Each event is unique, fun, and is a great way to make a positive impact in the community!
What is your favorite part of being a Project Coordinator?
My favorite part has to be the quiet smiles that people share. Whether it is the gentle ‘thank you’ and shy smile during a family dinner, or it is the smirk of a little one after a great coloring session (where lines are more of a suggestion than something to be followed); the small, sometimes unspoken tokens of thanks are huge.
Memorable moment at your project:
It’s fun when there are project participants who recognize a fellow volunteer (or me!) from a previous month. Similarly, it’s neat to see volunteers sign up a second (or third) time to join the same event. I like to think that means that the activities that we organize are fun, engaging, and sought after — both by volunteers as well as people in the communities that we serve.
Advice to someone new to volunteering:
Sometimes it is tricky to know where to start. There are so many different types of opportunities on the HandsOn Twin Cities website to choose from that one could spend hours looking through them all. Generally there are a few events that fit perfectly with a person’s schedule/talents, which helps folks to get started. I enjoy volunteering because it challenges me to do new things while helping others. Volunteering is a great way to meet new people, feel good about making a contribution, and it is a wonderful way to get out there to experience something new.
What do you do when you’re not volunteering?
In the summer, I am an active beekeeper and I work on trying not to get stung [often]. During the winter, I can generally be found indoors tinkering on my computer, or socializing with friends and family.
Favorite thing about living in the Twin Cities:
The Twin Cities has a lot of great art, music and culture. I was born and raised in Minnesota and have lived abroad, but I still enjoy the diversity that the Twin Cities has to offer.
Who is your service hero/role model?
One of my mentors in boy scouts, Steve Mathews. One of my fond memories of him was when he drove us [hours] to camp, while he had us listen to terrible music. On this trip, he stopped in the Badlands for less than two minutes while we all ran out of the car, snapped a picture, and got back in to the car to continue the trip. His humor was strange, yet he put fun in everything he did, and he was an extremely engaged, yet respectful individual. Steve ended up mentoring me during my Eagle project and I will always look up to him.
Your hidden talent:
I’m really good at getting lost. Seriously, I have no sense of direction. The internal compass isn’t broken, it’s just always wrong. I like to say it’s all about adventure, but if that is the case, I would have more adventure in me already than Indiana Jones. Eh. I always get to the places I’m going. It’s just always via rose bush and scenic route.
A nice Irish blessing:
May the road rise up to meet you.
May the wind always be at your back.
May the sun shine warm upon your face
and rains fall soft upon your fields.
And until we meet again
May God hold you in the palm of His hand.