We had the good fortune of connecting with Laura Kinder and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Laura, career-wise, where do you want to be in the end?
As I come closer to that potential “end of my career” I realize that I am where I want to be – working for a nonprofit, Spark the Change Colorado, where we do spark change and inspire a movement of good through the power of volunteerism, service, and engagement. I lead the Empowering Aging department where I surround myself with AmeriCorps Seniors volunteers who are assisting older adult clients so that they may live independently and continue to be a vibrant, contributing member of their communities. The volunteers, through their activities with their clients – grocery shopping, going to doctor’s appointments, and attending local events together – are giving the gift of companionship to those in most need of this gift. Rooted in the nonprofit world for more than 40 years, I understand it is my calling to be of service to others and George Bernard Shaw spoke for me when he said: This is the true joy in life, the being used for a purpose recognized by yourself as a mighty one . . . I am of the opinion that my life belongs to the whole community and as long as I live, it is my privilege to do for it whatever I can. I want to be thoroughly used up when I die, for the harder I work, the more I live. I rejoice in life for its own sake. Life is no “brief candle” to me. It is sort of a splendid torch which I have got hold of for the moment, and I want to make it burn as brightly as possible before handing it on to future generations.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
I quickly learned that to follow my passions meant embracing volunteerism. When I wanted to be closer to the environment, I became a volunteer wildlife rehabilitator. I held bear cubs, feed baby bats, exercised pelicans, and hibernated snakes. When I wanted to learn more about being a children’s writer, I became a volunteer storyteller at the library and shared my favorite books with eager young listeners. When I wanted to have kittens and puppies around me, I became a volunteer foster parent for the humane society providing well-socialized animals for adoption. When facing my 50th birthday and having been inspired by people who met amazing athletic accomplishments (miles walked, mountains climbed, roads cycled on) I stayed in my natural lane and challenged myself to complete 500 hours of volunteer service in my 50th year. Not only did I reach my goal, but I surpassed it by 200 hours. Today, I have a passion to help our COVID-19 impacted world and do so by volunteering at a testing site in my small mountain town. I have been selfish in my giving because no matter what I might have provided to others through volunteering, the gifts of knowledge, unique experiences, and camaraderie with others have flowed back to me a hundred-fold.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
Poet’s Row, a group of seven residential apartment buildings, built beginning in 1933, in Denver’s Capitol Hill (recently named one of the 10 most beautiful neighborhoods in the US), each named after an influential poet or author. The Mark Twain building is my favorite. The Molly Brown House Museum, a tribute to a unique woman who was fascinated with life. Denver Botanic Gardens, a showcase of the wonders and beauty of plant life.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
Thank you for opportunity to give credit to so many who paved and who have accompanied or are accompanying me along my journey. The pavers include my parents who first showed me how to give everyday acts of kindness to everyone and how to commit to intentional activism for causes I believe in. Another paver was the inspirational Marlene Wilson who taught and wrote the first books on best practices in volunteer management and leadership. She was a true mentor to me and thousands of others serving volunteers. A huge supporter has been my life partner, Sunny Apke, who I met when responding to her call for volunteers to relocate prairie dogs. Mutual interests in making the world a better place has made our lives better, together. A lot of credit goes to those who have walked along with me and are still walking along with me, sharing stories, ideas, and words of encouragement through peer organizations including the Colorado Volunteer Center Network, Colorado Healthcare Directors of Volunteer Services, DOVIA, Executive Leadership Institute, AmeriCorps Seniors Mountain Regional group, and National Senior Corps Association. I am never alone and cherish the company.
Facebook: Empowering Aging: AmeriCorps Seniors