Five years ago, with her children getting ready to go off to college, Kathleen Kasper found herself with more time on her hands. She was ready for a change.
That’s when she met Jo Leonard and learned about the R.J. Leonard Foundation. “Jo shared stories about the Fellows RJLF was working with at the time and the need for support at this critical time in their lives as they aged out of the foster care system.”
The foundation’s mission resonated with Kathleen. “I knew from experience with my kids, mentoring and support was essential for them to pursue their education and careers.”
Kathleen began volunteering on a part-time basis. With her background in human resources and her previous experience volunteering for nonprofits, her contributions proved invaluable, and her role evolved.
Today, Kathleen serves as the Senior Director of the R.J. Leonard Foundation, working directly with both Mentors and Fellows, providing the support they need to reach their goals. That often means responding to a Fellow’s immediate needs, such as a car in need of repairs or a laptop needed for school. Kathleen also works to develop partnerships in the community and find donors for the annual fall fundraiser.
“There really is no typical day. I learned early on the need to wear many hats when working for a small nonprofit.”
In her five years with the Foundations, Kathleen has experienced a great many high points, moments that reminded her of all the good RJLF is doing. We’ve had the opportunity to see our Fellows complete educational programs and move on to a related career. We’ve been able to provide new experiences such as a ‘very first concert’ or trips outside the state. To see that come to fruition is wonderfully rewarding.”
She’s especially moved by the opportunity to “get to be a part of the day to day successes, and the joy it brings to our Fellows. For example, when a Fellow gets an A in a class that they never thought they’d have the resources to take….We get to help make dreams come true which is pretty amazing.”
Thinking about the future, Kathleen hopes that RJLF will be able to help Fellows overcome obstacles and achieve their goals more quickly. “When we have a Fellow that is a single parent that can only take one or two classes because they need to be working full time to support themself and their child, it would be great to be able to provide them with the opportunity to focus on being a full-time student as well as a parent by providing more financial support. This would allow them to complete a program in one to two years rather than three or four, reaching that ultimate goal of becoming independent and self-sufficient.”
Through her work with RJLF, Kathleen has changed people’s lives for the better. Click on the link to read Thank You letters sent to the foundation by Fellows she has worked with:
Learn how you can help Fellows with their immediate needs on a monthly basis through our Friends Launching Futures sustaining support fund.