Hello, loyal readers! In the past, we’ve featured volunteers on our blog in relation to our annual Good Hope Awards event (in the fall). However, we believe that attention should be called to our amazing volunteers year-round. So, strap yourself in for our newest feature: Volunteer Spotlight!
This week, we focus our Volunteer Spotlight on the wonderful Diane Liebman, who you can find on Tuesday afternoons conducting intake and re-certification interviews for clients at our Southeast Center location.
How did you become involved with Bread for the City
I first became involved with Bread through Mark Aron, my mentor and friend at CSX Corporation. A project I was working on at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History ran out of funding, so I was interested in another volunteer opportunity. I knew of Bread’s excellent work through Mark and my husband, Bill, who worked in the legal clinic for almost a year. Mark suggested that Southeast could use more volunteers. The rest is history!
What is your favorite part about volunteering at Bread?
My favorite part of volunteering is when I can help clients help themselves in unexpected ways.
One client in particular comes to mind. She had worked for many years but had fallen on hard times because of her struggle with alcoholism. She lost her job and became homeless, moving from one church member’s home to another. But she had worked hard to deal with her addiction and was committed to staying sober. She came in for food. I thought perhaps she could benefit from our more comprehensive programs, and she ended up enrolling in our Pre-Employment Program and getting case management through Bread with the goal of getting her own home. All she had asked for was food. But she was so thrilled to get this broader assistance that, when I bumped into her a few times after that initial meeting, she ran up and gave me a hug to thank me for all the help. Whether or not she can successfully use the tools and guidance we have given her is in her hands. But at least we’ve set her up to succeed.
When you were 10 years old, what did you want to be when you grew up?
When I was ten I didn’t know exactly what I wanted to do, but I knew it would be something connected to my Aunt Anne: a very important person in my life. Being the oldest of five children, she left school to go to work in the 1920s to help support the family. At a time when women in the work force were rare, she went on to become treasurer and senior vice president of a major New York City company. She didn’t have children, but she put her energy into helping her nieces (including me) and nephews. She saved Jewish families from Nazi Germany, and helped others relocate to Israel after the war. She traveled the world and led a fabulous life. Seeing Aunt Anne succeed, I decided to venture out into the corporate world and, like her, always in male-dominateded industries. I ended up having a very interesting and rewarding career. Equally important, I followed her lead on caring for others who are in more difficult circumstances than I, which is why I value my connection to Bread.