The start to Theresa Kramer-Burgess’ service was serendipitous, while attending a local crab festival in 2017, she noticed a booth for Volunteer Alexandria, an organization that provides resources to community members of all ages. Since then, the Alexandria, Virginia resident has logged hundreds of hours promoting events for the organization and building a stronger community for her neighbors.
As a volunteer, Theresa supports Volunteer Alexandria’s social media efforts, writing posts, creating graphics and also writing and editing the organization’s materials. While promoting events for Volunteer Alexandria, which inspires and mobilizes people, six years and older, to volunteer and offers an array of services to community members in need, Theresa says she’ll sometimes sign herself up as a volunteer, serving as one of the many powerful forces in her community contributing to the greater good.
What inspires you to volunteer?
I’d volunteered in the past with different organizations, but this opportunity was a way to give back to the community I live in, using my professional skills to benefit my neighbors.
Describe your role with Volunteer Alexandria.
I became their social media volunteer lead and am pretty much in charge of writing and scheduling posts for Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. I also create most of the graphics, and edit and write some of the organization’s outreach materials and website content. I also enjoy being a volunteer for their events. I’ll see a social post for an upcoming service event, and say, ‘oh my gosh, that sounds like fun’. My teenage daughter and I will occasionally volunteer together.
Share one personal story with me from your volunteerism.
After the Covid-19 pandemic hit, everything just exploded, as you can imagine. With social media, you try not to get wrapped up in the immediate gratification of clicks and likes, but I once posted about an upcoming food drive, and within two to three hours, we had enough volunteers for the event. I know anecdotally, our social media helps to promote events and recruit volunteers, and Volunteer Alexandria has mobilized close to 5,500 volunteers since March to respond to the pandemic, helping with food distribution, supporting the most vulnerable including children and seniors. Seeing people out there distributing food in the rain, or the crack of dawn, you see how many good people we have in our community.
Why do you think it’s important for others to give back?
Because we have to take care of each other. You never know when we’re going to need help in some way. Passing on that kindness, the people we help will one day turn around and help someone else. Service is the right thing to do as a human being, that’s what makes a community.
What’s been the most rewarding part of your service?
It’s been rewarding to give back using my experience and my professional skills, whether that’s in person before Covid-19 or virtually during the pandemic, early in the morning and late at night. My volunteering hours adjust depending upon our needs, but during the pandemic I’ve been volunteering 10, 15, 20 hours a week. It’s all about being a part of this bigger community and making sure children and people in need are being helped. It’s inspiring to see the generosity of people who want to help and give back amid the pandemic.
In one word, what does volunteering mean to you?
Results. Seeing the results in the community, hearing that so many people picked up food, for example, and that students were fed when schools shut down during the pandemic, or that children received gifts during our holiday toy drive.
How can readers help?
Please visit Volunteer Alexandria’s website for more information about how you can help.
Do you want to make a difference in your community like Theresa Kramer-Burgess? Find local volunteer opportunities.