Lauren Callahan has been a part of the Commonwealth community since 2005 and is a planner on our Conferences and Events team. In this role, she assists in the development and execution of Commonwealth conferences and events. She is among a select few elected to a year-long appointment on the Commonwealth Cares board for the 2013–2014 term.
Q: What inspired you to get involved in Giving Back?
A: Giving back has been a part of my life for such a long time. Growing up, as a Girl Scout, I did a lot of volunteering and the importance of giving back has stayed with me through the years.
Q: What was one of your favorite Giving Back initiatives at Commonwealth?
A: We do so many amazing programs here at the office. I help organize—as well as participate in—our Promising Pals program with the Timilty Middle School. I mean, who doesn’t like getting a letter in the mail?! I think my favorite Giving Back event though was in Maui at the Boys & Girls Club. It was our first official Giving Back initiative at a conference, and we had no idea how it would go. We planned the work day with no history or expectations. Our advisors and staff blew us away! It was such a success, and we made such a difference. Seeing it all come to fruition was hugely rewarding!
Q: Can you share with us a story about how you know you’ve made a difference?
A: My most memorable experience was a giving back activity in Cabo at one of our conferences. We worked with Los Ninos del Capiton, a day care facility for single-parent families who live in extreme poverty. Commonwealth advisors, staff, and sponsors showed up for a work day. We planted flowers, painted, and cleaned the facility. One project we did was covering a dusty dirt patch in the corner of the facility with artificial grass-like turf. Although I helped with this task, I didn’t understand why it was so important.
After the projects were finished, the majority of the group left to travel back to the resort, but a few of us stayed behind to clean up. What happened next, I will never forget. The children came out of their classrooms, ready to see what we had done. They took one look at the artificial grass and couldn’t contain their excitement. They started running, jumping, rolling around, and squealing with delight and laughter on the “grass.” Then it hit me: we were able to give these children a place where they could play without getting dirty or hurt.
Q: Tell us about some of the charitable work you do outside of the office.
A: I volunteer with Rosie’s Place, whose mission is to provide a safe and nurturing environment for poor and homeless women. There are so many opportunities to give back with this one group. You can serve a meal, work in the pantry, visit the elderly or lonely, or teach a class.
Also, with my role here at Commonwealth, I work closely with various groups, including Boys & Girls clubs, Habitat for Humanity, and local shelters for our conferences. Even though the resort destinations we travel to are amazing, there is always a need in the local community. Commonwealth Cares allows us to address that need directly, and our work makes an immediate impact. I feel fortunate to see the positive effect our giving back programs have in so many communities. When Commonwealth travels to a location, we leave it a little better than when we arrived.
Q: What advice would you give to someone who’s looking to get involved in Giving Back?
A: I would say look at the activities you are passionate about and find a cause that aligns with it. Have fun!