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Volunteer Spotlight: Sheila

Volunteer Spotlight: Sheila Banner

Sheila is a founding member of SALT (Senior Advocacy Leadership Team), a group of older adults that is working to ensure seniors are heard in the community, around issues like transportation, affordable housing and green space. Sheila attends SALT’s weekly meetings at MCC, along with many other events in and around the LES to advocate for these and other important issues. Sheila started volunteering at MCC a few years ago, when she initiated an inter-generational sing-along group in one of MCC’s early childhood classrooms. An avid gardener, Sheila has created a partnership between Seward Park and S.A.L.T. and volunteers on our community rooftop garden, helping to create a beautiful space where children and seniors can learn and enjoy in a welcoming environment.

What is your experience like as a member of the SALT team, and at Census Lobby day in Albany?

“I feel so privileged as a member – getting to participate in educational workshops on leadership, effective volunteering, and how to get things get done in a community. It’s also nice to have a group to talk with, while getting support from a larger community.

I participated in the lobby day because it was another learning experience and a review for me of how a law is passed. I studied civics in school but with time and age they have been forgotten, so this was a great refresher.  This is a good example of real learning through knowledge and practice.

The census is very critical to what we get from the federal government. Everything comes down to numbers, we want to get it right, we lobbied for 40 million dollars to be given to CBOs to be able to send community members to do outreach for the census in order to get the most accurate count possible. It was an exciting experience for me as I’ve never been part of a public demand in this fashion, which was a far cry from my activism in the Philippines which was (under those times) illegal. Here, you are face-to-face with your representatives or staffers and officially demand, with your point of view. Best of all, it was very empowering and inspiring to be with so many different organizations that have the same sentiment.

What does volunteering mean to you?

There are so many things I want to see improved in the community, in everywhere that I am involved in. I want to share my talents with anyone who wants to learn as I do, to learn something new with me.

The best volunteering activity I think I’ll have an impact on, is children and gardening

and as far as activism goes, I was always an activist as far as I can remember.

Volunteers are integral to the work we do at Manny Cantor Center, our spotlight series provides an opportunity to share the stories of why community members volunteer, what they gain from the experience, and the impact they are able to make. Thank you to all who choose to come through our doors to help build the community we want to live in.

If you are interested in volunteering with us here at Manny Cantor Center, we have opportunities available for a variety of schedules and interests. Learn more about serving at MCC here.

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