Why do you volunteer for Maslow Project?
For the past couple of months, I’ve had the opportunity to get to know Nancy, as well as her volunteers who want to make a difference in our community. I wanted to document this special success for Maslow Project, but also for Nancy, who is the lead in this program. Her thoughtful development has created a wonderful community service that is provided free of cost to the folks who need it most in our community. I shared some questions with Nancy, and her responses blow me away. I am reminded just how special this community is, thanks to people like Nancy Roberts.
How did you learn about Maslow Project?
In September 2017, I posed a question to my Facebook friends: “I’d like to organize
something charitable for local families around the holidays. Any ideas?” While many
wonderful organizations were named, Maslow Project was named the most.
When/How did you get involved with Maslow Project?
By early October 2017, after meeting with Serina Quast about the above-mentioned
the idea, we had a large donation bin by the front door of my salon and started letting
clients know that they could bring donations in any time they like. Well, let me tell you,
the donations came in droves. Clients were texting before their
appointments—Wanting to know what they could bring for the donation bin. I could
barely fit the donations in my car each Monday when I would deliver them to Maslow.
That next month, we hosted a Holiday family photo booth with all proceeds going to
Maslow Project. I don’t remember exactly how much money we raised, but I do
remember it felt like a million dollars.
After the holiday season, I didn’t see any reason why we wouldn’t just keep the
donation bin, and to this day, the salon is a permanent Maslow Project donation drop
off. The thrill of donating hasn’t worn off, either. When I take donations in, my car is
still always stuffed. Maslow Project has quickly become something we contribute to as
a salon community. Our salon, both clients and stylists, believe in Maslow Project and
want to see it, and the youth of our community, succeed. Working together, our
contributions really add up!
What attracted you to the cause of youth homelessness?
I think that youth homelessness resonates with me stronger than other causes because,
as a senior in high school, living in a single-mother household with three kids, our rental
house burned to the ground. Had we not lived in a small town with a tight community
that took us in and helped us get back on our feet, who knows what could have
happened to us and our futures. Instead, my family was able to heal and recover, never
spending a night without a roof over our head or love being given to us. We were lucky.
What attracted you to Maslow Project in particular?
I love the community I do business in and with. I am attracted to Maslow Project
because I want to invest in the promise of our community. I believe that kids don’t need
much of a break to bloom into a great success, and I love how Maslow gives our youth
and their families the tools to escape what they may have thought to be their destiny.
From a practical standpoint, Maslow is very easy to work with; they communicate well,
are considerate of my time, and their program is proven to be effective.
What is it that you do to help Maslow Project?
Besides my salon being a hub for donation drop-offs, I am proud to say that I also
developed and run the haircut program at the Maslow Project in Medford. Each month
since this September, a local stylist offers complimentary haircuts to Maslow clients
from 1-5 pm on site. On average, we are able to give 5 haircuts per shift. The clients we
see may have a job interview coming up, a family event, or could just use the pick-me-
up a fresh haircut offers.
What motivates you to stay involved?
While collecting donations and raising awareness for a few years had been fulfilling, I
began to feel like I could do more. That’s when I wrote an email to Emily Baehr,
Maslow’s Volunteer Coordinator, asking for a more in-depth tour of Maslow Project. I
felt an itch, like there was more that I could give, and I needed to get in there to figure
out how else I could be of help to them.
That’s when it happened. I simply asked Emily during the tour what I could do that they
needed but didn’t have. She immediately replied, “We could use a haircut program.”
To which I replied, “Okay, I can do that.” I remember this moment exactly because I was
dying inside, because I got what I wanted, but it was much larger than I had imagined.
Did I bite off more than I could chew? Luckily, it turns out that any project can be broken
into several chewable bites, and before I knew it, the wheels were in motion—I’d recruited
several amazing stylists for the program, had it approved with our state agency, and then
worked to get the stylists oriented and the on-site station all set up. 6 months after that
initial ask, we were cutting hair at Maslow Project.
I think volunteering, just like our careers, can experience moments of boredom or burn
out. But rather than moving on and finding something new, exciting, and different, I’m
a believer in first trying to get deeper. This is how I stay involved. I keep it interesting
and challenging and become even more involved.
In your opinion, what is the most important work that this organization does?
From what I’ve seen with everything in my time in and around all things Maslow, I feel
the most important work Maslow is doing is giving people their self-respect back or
showing them what it feels like for the first time. The respect they show their clients
when working with them, when working on projects for them, and when speaking on
their behalf, is admirable, and I believe that Maslow Project’s positive attitudes are
contagious within the community. Maslow is effective, compassionate, and respectful.
I know Maslow Project isn’t the only organization you help.
Why do you volunteer/donate your time/services?
I help because I can. Yes, I work full-time and have a child of my own. But I’m able-bodied and almost always can find at least a bit of time to help where it’s needed. It’s
my life’s mission to inspire others to get out there and volunteer. Helping feels good.
It’s a great social activity and a wonderful way to meet people and push yourself to do
things out of your comfort zone. Giving back to the communities in which we live
should be common practice. We all have a way in which we can contribute.
My son and I packed food last year for Stamp out Hunger with Access. It wasn’t his first
volunteering activity, but it was the hardest. It was hot and the sun was beating down
on us as we packed the boxes for local families. When I think back on that experience, I
have such pride in my heart that my son worked without complaint for hours, and that
we had such a nice time together. We chatted with other community members
lightheartedly, and together, we made a difference. I know experiences like this will
help instill a strong work ethic and compassion in him. I’m doing my part to be a
volunteer, and to raise a volunteer. And to inspire “Volunteer” to be a way many more
people in our community proudly describe themselves when asked what they do.
What contribution or service achievement are you most proud of?
Every time someone tells me they volunteered or did a good deed anywhere for
anything because of something I did or taught them; those are my great achievements.
I’m just one person, and I can accomplish many, yet still limited things. But if I can
inspire others to get out there and help too—I think that is the best contribution I can
make to my community.
What do you hope to achieve through your service to Maslow Project?
Currently, we are unable to shampoo our clients when giving them a haircut. I would
love to be able to offer our Maslow clients a nice shampoo with each haircut service.
Especially since many of them haven’t been able to clean their hair and scalp in quite
some time. My other goal for the future would be to offer our haircut days more often than once a
month, with one designated day a week being the norm.
Ultimately, I would like to raise awareness about and compassion and action for our
homeless youth. I want to offer self-care, respect, and confidence to Maslow clients.
Do you have any stories, or fond memories or experiences while serving that you’d like to share
with our supporters? Has anything really moved you?
While cutting hair one day at Maslow, I had a young woman share with me that, “It’s
really expensive to be poor.” She said many other things that made me think and
tugged at my heartstrings, but that, well, it has stuck with me. I think that sometimes
we think about the problem of homelessness through our own lenses. It’s incredibly
hard not to! But the struggles the homeless have are so different and to us seem so
simple to solve. Every day quick errands can take all day, and something cheap can still
cost too much, when homeless.
Do you have a message to share? If there are other folks wondering how they can make a
difference, what would you share with them?
Don’t wait. Help now. Don’t wait for when you have more time, or when you have
more money, or after your kids are grown up. Do what you can and do it now. When
you’re done, do some more later, and plan it into your future plans, too.
Don’t let intimidation or fear hold you back, it doesn’t matter that you don’t really know
that much about what you are getting into. You’ll learn what you need to know along
the way. Don’t worry about giving too little, because every bit helps. There are so many
ways that your community needs you.
Remember that those non-profits out there, they don’t know you exist. You need to go
to them. Ask what they need, tell them what your skills are, or how much time you
have to donate. Ask your Facebook, LinkedIn, and Instagram friends and colleagues who
they are involved in helping and check out those you seem interested in.
Also, don’t worry about being exclusive. Volunteering helps our community whether
you are involved with one organization or twenty. If you have the time and you like the
cause, go for it!
Interested in knowing more about our haircut team members at Maslow Project? Check out
their Instagram accounts:
Urban Edge Salon
Studio C and Corbett’s
Lotus Hair, Body & Soul
The Giving Tree Salon
Inspired by the generosity of our community? Consider volunteering!