Volunteer wears several altruistic hats

Volunteer work for Alisa Stevens’, 51,  has a localized focus, as her goal is to make a difference in Southwest Louisiana.

“Volunteering allows you to share your skills and can make a positive impact on the community,” she explained. “Imagine the difference that we could make in the community if everyone was willing to volunteer.”

Stevens wears several altruistic hats in Lake Charles. She has been a volunteer with the Louisiana Passenger Safety Task Force for 18 years, and now takes on the role of a national passenger safety instructor. As an instructor, Stevens teaches candidates how to become child passenger safety technicians.

She serves as a mentor for future technicians that have already successfully passed their national technician exams. “I continue to mentor them while the individual educates parents and other caregivers to properly protect their children in motor vehicles and to provide ‘hands-on’ assistance in the proper use of child restraint systems and safety belts.”

At Second Harvest, Stevens volunteers with the Makin’ Groceries Mobile Market. The mobile market provides affordable grocery staples, such as fresh fruit and vegetables, dry goods and some meat products.

“Ms. Stevens has played an instrumental role in the success of our Makin’ Groceries Mobile Market,” said Natasha Curley, Second Harvest Food Bank Public Relations and Marketing Manager. “She has consistently shown up to volunteer, offering her time and energy to ensure that everyone who visits the Mobile Market has a great shopping experience.

“Her hard work and commitment have helped us get the word out to others who could benefit, thus helping countless families in our community afford wholesome food and improve their overall well-being.”

“I am at their beck and call, and I am willing to do whatever is needed at the market,” she said.

She is also a founding member of the SWLA Safe Sleep Task Force, which educates community members on how to reduce the risk of sudden infant death syndrome and accidental suffocation of infants.

Volunteerism has always been a facet of Stevens’ life. In her youth, she volunteered with many school groups and was inspired to continue the work into her adulthood by her school coaches. “I really appreciate the time and effort that my coaches poured into me as a young child and teenager. Sometimes you don’t realize these efforts until you are an adult yourself.”

Inspired by the kindness she received from her coaches, she also spent some time as an adult volunteering as a coach for her children’s cheerleading squads and basketball and track teams. “Coaching allowed me to spend quality time with my children and to give back to others.”

Stevens loves to connect with others, and her volunteer work allows her to do so. She has the opportunity to build connections, and see the results of her altruism firsthand. “It brings me opportunities to meet and work with new people,” she explained. “The privilege of truly knowing that you have helped someone is extremely gratifying.”

“Simply put, it makes me happy.”

As a witness to local volunteer work, she has high hopes for SWLA’s growth as a community. “When people do things for others out of generosity and not obligation, and do it with compassion and empathy, you can truly make a difference in someone’s life… imagine this for SWLA.”

There are two vital components to volunteering, Stevens said. One must put aside prejudices and take advantage of their talent, skills and resources.

She believes that in order to properly help someone, a volunteer must approach every person with no expectations based on their appearance, culture or socioeconomic class. “When you remove your preconceived notions about a situation or community and approach with an open mind and heart, positive changes can happen and may spread like a wildfire,” she said.

Once one decides to dedicate a significant amount of time to volunteerism, Stevens believes it is important to consider personal skills and preferences to decide where to volunteer.

Stevens believes that small acts of kindness can make contributions to the community, especially in the modern world. “We all have busy lives. Let’s make a pledge to attempt to make a positive impact on someone’s life daily,” she said.

The small acts of kindness make waves, she said. “It doesn’t have to be volunteering… Saying hello to a stranger, offering a simple smile or holding the door open for someone can change the day for both you and the other person.”

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