Multifaceted Volunteer Championing Family, Healing and Opportunity

Daily Point of Light # 7810 May 13, 2024

Meet Daily Point of Light Award honoree Bob Daum. Read his story, and nominate an outstanding volunteer or family as a Daily Point of Light.

With a heart geared toward community service, Bob Daum stands out as a truly dedicated volunteer at HALO, an organization committed to providing the essential foundations of a family for children who need it most. Since March 2020, an especially trying period for unhoused and at-risk youth, Bob has immersed himself fully in various aspects of the organization, embodying the comprehensive care and commitment that family often represents.

Bob’s involvement with HALO extends far beyond a single focus, touching nearly every aspect of the organization. From direct interaction with youth across a broad age spectrum to logistical support and fundraising efforts, his contributions are vast. He seamlessly transitions from one role to another, whether he is bringing joy to children with a weekly pizza night or empowering teenagers through professional development programs. His dedication illustrates a deep understanding of the multidimensional support required to truly impact lives.

Bob’s volunteerism also stretches into various educational and community settings, reinforcing his commitment to nurturing potential wherever he goes. He engages with students at Fairfax High School in an art class designed to teach life skills, helps 2nd and 3rd graders at Genesis Charter School improve their reading abilities and tutors 4th and 5th graders at Pitcher Elementary in reading and math. Each setting benefits from his tailored approach to meet the educational needs of students at different stages of their academic journey.

Read more about Bob’s volunteer work, how he got started and why he is passionate about these causes.

Bob Daum knew that he needed to volunteer to stay healthy and active in retirement. That’s when he found HALO.

Tell us about your volunteer role.

I started with HALO prior to COVID, when I was still working with FedEx as director of sales. I was going to retire in about a year, and I wanted to start volunteering somewhere to dip my toe in the waters before retirement. I wanted to get comfortable with the organization and the people and the mission. That’s how I started, and once I retired, I went fully into multiple programs with HALO. We go to different opportunities, like an alternative high school where we teach art on Monday afternoons. There’s an emergency shelter, and the kids come over on Wednesday nights. We give them a place to hang out, provide them with food and articles of clothing, or if they need any type of toiletries.

The other thing I do with HALO is called Cornerstones of Care. These kids live on campus; they’re between foster homes. Some could be there for a year or two, and we work with them on a weekly basis, teaching them life skills. Every month we have a different skill we emphasize, like responsibility, accountability or work ethic, and the whole month is focused around that skill.

Another initiative I work with is called Lead to Read, and we read with 2nd and 3rd graders at Genesis Charter School. This school is in an area where there’s not a lot of access to libraries. I’ve seen kids go from not being able to read at all when they start to bringing in a book and reading it out loud! Because of the commute time for the volunteers, I suggested we do two blocks of reading – one with second graders and one with third graders – to maximize the good we could do. The team leader said yes, so we’ve been doing that since.

Why are these issues so important to you?

One of the things I was reading before I retired was about finding out what you like about your job and trying to duplicate that in retirement. I had quite a few people working for me at FedEx and the thing I got the most value out of was getting my people promoted – coaching them, mentoring them, seeing them grow in their careers. I can do that with HALO, with these kids, from 10 to 17 or 18 years old. There are very few older male volunteers at the organization – everybody pretty much is female. So they gravitate toward me somewhat, as they don’t necessarily have a male role model figure. I try and help them, basically trying to do the same thing I do with my employees with these kids – motivate them, teach them life skills and know they can go on to do other things.

What’s been the most rewarding part of your work?

One specific situation: during COVID, there were some students who didn’t have reliable Wi-Fi access. I’d go to the center where we had good Wi-Fi, and we’d bring in the same kids every day to do their schoolwork. One of the kids was 30 days behind, and I took it on as a challenge to try to get him caught up. He was in the 8th grade. We were doing a bunch of quizzes, he was doing well on them. We were knocking them out. One time, out of nowhere, he turned his head halfway toward me and told me he needed a break. That was his way of telling me to back off. But at the end of the year, he made the Honor Roll!

What have you learned through your experiences as a volunteer?

I think with the kids, and with employees too, the biggest thing is trust. You don’t know what their background is or what they’re going through. Often, they’re kicked out of their homes, or they’re in foster homes or whatever the situation. At the end of the day, they’re in an emergency shelter. I’ve learned to give them some leeway and meet them where they are.

Also, I’ve learned to be less judgmental. A lot of what you see are LGBTQ kids who have been kicked out of their homes when they’ve come out. It’s gut-wrenching, a 14-year-old kid on the street because they told their father they were gay. It takes them a while to warm up, but once they know you’re there to help them, they give you an opportunity to help them.

Tell us about future partnerships, programs or events that you are excited about.

I’m really excited about the HALO organization in Kansas City is building a new home, with space for 20 students – 10 boys and 10 girls – with a specific area for teen moms. We’re going to have the same kids for 18 months to two years, who we’ll be able to mentor, coach and teach life skills. The house is almost finished, and we’ll start that up in June or July. We’ll be teaching them how to interview, how to dress for a job, how to speak to potential employers, how to live on their own, how to get a car and more.

Why is it important for others to get involved with causes they care about?

I think you get more out of it than the people you’re helping do! If people would just try it, I think they’d feel that. It’s like going to the gym and working out. The hardest thing is just starting it, but once you’re done, you feel so much better. Find what you’re going to get satisfaction out of. It shouldn’t be a chore to go; you should want to go. If you’ve got the time and the resources, why not? We’re not here that long. If you can make a difference in one person’s life, it’s worth it.

Any advice for people who want to start volunteering?

When I was still working, we had a person come in from Human Resources and talk to us about going from 100 miles per hour to 0. She said 50% of people who retire, if they have nothing to do, within six months, they won’t be here anymore. That hit home with me. I tried a few things before I found HALO. Sometimes you need to hunt and peck your way to something that hits home with you – whether that’s domestic violence, art with high school kids or something else.

Do you want to make a difference in your community like Bob? Find local volunteer opportunities.


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