Kyle Rowen has been actively involved with WHW since 2007, originally supporting his wife Laurie, who was a very involved WHW Volunteer. He started by attending events and then started inviting others to get involved with the work of WHW.
Motivated to make an even bigger impact, Kyle joined the Board of Directors in 2014 and became a member of the Governance Committee. In 2015, he became Vice Chair and took the position of Board Chair in July of 2016. He is currently serving his second term as Chairman of the Board.
Kyle is also actively involved in Boys2Men, Suits for a Cause, attends all of WHW fundraising events and has been an avid recruiter for the organization.
Marcelle’s volunteer involvement with WHW began over 15 years ago while she was a Branch Manager and Vice President at First Bank, a long time WHW Corporate supporter, where she led Financial Literacy workshops for WHW job seekers. From leading Financial Literacy workshops, Marcelle transitioned to assisting with the Resume Development workshops on a weekly basis. With over 35 years of experience and hiring in the banking industry, Marcelle brought a wealth of knowledge to creating a resume that would attract the attention of a potential employer and land an interview.
When Marcelle retired from First Bank, she took on even more volunteer responsibilities at WHW. Today, you will find Marcelle serving as a Personal Stylist in WHW’s Apparel Program helping Job Seekers to find the perfect interview outfit; serving as a Resume Coach in our Resume Workshops, contributing her practical tips and inside knowledge of what employers look at when reviewing resumes and playing a key role on the WHW Friends Planning Committee helping to plan and make our annual fundraising event a success.
Like WHW, Pacific Life believes in living out their core values each and every day: People, Accountability, Customer Focus, Integrity, Financial Strength, Innovation and Community.
While they can certainly boast of being a Fortune 500 Company who provides a wide range of life insurance products, annuities, mutual funds, investment products and other services to both individuals and businesses, what really makes them stand out is their focus on supporting and strengthening the safety net here in Orange County.
Pacific Life’s employees and their friends and families give generously of their time and talents to ensure that WHW has the manpower needed to implement important and impactful projects that benefit thousands of Job Seekers. They volunteer at Saturday Sales sometimes bringing groups as large as 25 to do everything from restocking to crowd control to cleaning up. They are some really “Good Guys!” They host clothing drives showcasing the mission of WHW to hundreds of their employees at a time and collecting thousands of articles of professional and casual clothing and accessories in support of our Job Seekers and their journey to employment.
Pacific Life consistently donates technology to WHW. The desktops, laptops, monitors, ipads and more have supported our growth and helped us to build capacity in ways we alone would not have been able to do. Their employees have served on WHW’s Board of Directors, Advisory Board of Directors and Event Planning Committee, providing leadership and strategic planning and cultivating powerful relationships in which a passion is shared for making significant contributions to those who need a hand up. And for the past ten years, Pacific Life has granted $10,000 to WHW every year in support of putting people to work. They have shared their time, their talent and their treasure and they are absolutely one of the best corporate volunteers in Orange County!
Past Volunteers of the Year
Erin Leach, Fundraising Volunteer of the Year - 2015
Erin Leach joined the Board of Directors of WHW in October of 2010. As an employment law attorney, the knowledge and expertise Erin brought to WHW was invaluable. She quickly joined the Governance Committee of the Board, and has served as Chair of the committee since 2011. Erin has given leadership and oversight to key organizational policies and personnel procedures, along with creating and reviewing critical compliance procedures.
Erin’s enthusiasm for WHW extends far beyond the Governance Committee. She has worked tirelessly as a fundraiser for WHW, which has been key to WHW’s ability to grow to meet the needs of today’s job seekers. Erin has dedicated six years to WHW as a member of the Board, and will continue to be involved with WHW in an advisory capacity once her current term ends.
Elizabeth Stevens, Program Volunteer of the Year - 2015
Elizabeth first came to know of WHW by participating in a Clothing Drive, enthusiastically gathering professional clothing and accessories for job seekers in need. But once she took a tour of WHW’s facilities and understood the impact that the organization was making, she was all in and has dedicated herself to transforming the lives of WHW job seekers. Elizabeth facilitates a monthly Confidence Building workshop for men and women in transition, most of whom are discouraged in their job search and in their lives. Her contagious optimism and energy gives these job seekers a fresh perspective on their journey and often breathes new life into their critical search for employment. WHW receives raving reviews of Elizabeth’s workshops with testimonials about how attendees have been invigorated by her charisma, but mostly by how much she cares.
Elizabeth has also been the driving force behind a special networking event called, “Networking in Action,” which brings together job seekers who have gone through WHW’s job search networking program and employers who are looking for candidates to hire. And Elizabeth has been instrumental in bringing WHW to the forefront of hundreds of prospective donors, corporate volunteers and investors by aligning the organization with the Orange County Register’s Top Workplaces campaign. She has helped with marketing, advertising and promotional opportunities that have enhanced WHW’s brand and credibility, helping to catapult the organization to a new level.
Capital Group, Corporate Volunteer of the Year - 2015
The Capital Group serves individual investors, financial intermediaries and institutions around the world through a broad range of products and services. Since 1931, they have been singularly focused on one thing…delivering superior and consistent results for long-term investors. This is successfully accomplished in a company culture that cares for their associates, their customers and their community.
Each year, Capital Group associates personally support more than 2,000 nonprofit organizations through donations and volunteer work. The company and its charitable foundation enhance that support with funding in the form of grants and matching gifts. During the past 10 years, they have contributed more than $200 million to charitable organizations around the world.
And at WHW, Capital Group shows up. They show up to facilitate one of the most impactful workshops assisting job seekers with determining their strengths. They show up very early on Saturday mornings once a quarter with sleeves rolled up to work at our Quarterly Saturday Sales helping to raise critical funding. They show up to be part of special networking events for our job seekers with jobs available. They show up with clothing donations collected at the many clothing drives they host to help WHW job seekers achieve a professional look. They show up at our fundraising events, celebrating our successes, contributing funds to our programs and increasing the awareness of our mission. Capital Group shows up to Empower Employment Success and WHW is lucky to have them!
Laurie Rowen has served as a member of WHW’s Board of Directors for six years, and as Board Chair for two years. She currently serves as the Chair of WHW’s Advisory Board. Laurie, who is the owner of Montage Legal Group, a network of experienced independent contractor and freelance attorneys who work on a temporary basis for other law firms, leveraged her relationships in the legal community to develop Suits for a Cause, an annual clothing drive hosted by the legal profession of Orange County. Up to 50 firms now participate in this drive providing thousands of professional clothing items to support WHW job seekers. Laurie is a dedicated volunteer, fundraiser and advocate for WHW and we are honored to have her as one of WHW’s most vibrant volunteers.
Bana initially came to WHW to serve as an intern and the WHW staff immediately took notice of her dedication, commitment and flexibility as she eagerly wore many hats while volunteering. When a WHW staff member suddenly passed away, Bana stepped into the role of Donation Center Coordinator as a full-time volunteer. Serving in this capacity for several months, Bana took ownership and set the bar very high as WHW sought to fill the position. Bana has gone above and beyond the call of duty to step in when WHW needed her most assuming a dire role in a critical period. WHW is honored and proud to have someone as humble, devoted and faithful as Bana to be recognized as one of WHW’s premier volunteers.
Located in Anaheim, Freeman Company knows the value of partnerships quite well since their brand purpose is to connect people in meaningful ways. Founded in 1927 originally with a passion for party decorating, this innovative company has expanded into an international provider of integrated services for face-to-face marketing solutions supporting over 300,000 clients each year. This family and employee-owned company is committed to their over 5,000 team members, their industry, their environment and communities holding fast to its goal of bringing people together in a way that informs, inspires, promotes businesses and builds relationships. Freeman’s support of WHW’s marketing efforts for Programs, Clothing Drives, Saturday Sales, Déjà New, Donor Outreach and Special Events through graphic productions has helped set WHW apart, increasing our brand awareness, elevating the way we look and helping to tell our story. What they do for us is simply magical!
Sheri Wiseman served as a member of WHW’s Board of Directors from 2007-2013. During this time, she served as an Ambassador for WHW and its programs and as a member of the Friends of WHW committee for five years. Sheri has worked hard to garner considerable in-kind resources, volunteers and financial support for WHW. Even though she has served her maximum of two terms as a Director with WHW, she transitioned to WHW’s Advisory Board in 2013 and continues to be an integral part of WHW!
Anna Syzmanski has been a dedicated volunteer of WHW for over 10 years, working closely with the staff at the Costa Mesa Donation Center to sort through clothing donations. She is often referred to as “the Whirlwind” as she quickly navigates through the countless bags and boxes dropped off by WHW donors. She has a great eye for fashion and can easily and quickly spot items that are appropriate for WHW clients as well as those items that will be top sellers for either Deja New or the Quarterly Saturday Sale. She is someone who can be trusted, not only to get the work done but also to greet and thank every donor that comes by WHW. Devoting countless hours to her position that requires tremendous physical labor, this honoree has sorted through thousands of donations in the decade she has been serving as a volunteer with WHW.
WHW is blessed to have many corporations who provide volunteer support to our mission, including supporting our programs, our staff, our events and our clients. WHW Corporate partners share a passion for making a positive impact in our community and for seeing disadvantaged and low-income individuals become economically self-sufficient. By combining our strengths and sharing a passion for the end result, our partnerships have lasting value and high impact. State Street knows the value of partnerships quite well. They partner with institutional inventors all over the world to provide comprehensive financial services, including investment management, investment research and trading and investment services. State Street employs more than 29,000 people in 29 countries and yet believes that one person can make a difference. Supporting the communities in which their thousands of employees live and work is one of their fundamental values and while they are headquartered in Boston, they have had a profound impact on the clients of WHW. In the past four years, they have contributed over $75,000 and hundreds of hands on volunteer hours. They have worked as personal shoppers; they have processed donations; they have helped set up for our Saturday Sale and just this past year, they even sent a team to paint our new dressing room doors. We agree that one person can made a difference, but when you have a team of individuals whose passion and focus is invested in improving the communities in which they live, you can change the world. And that is what State Street does!
Ann, a retired professor of the Sciences at Orange Coast College, has been preparing job seekers and helping them answer those critical interview questions since 2008. Ann provides taped mock interviews with a group of 10 job seekers biweekly and is a critical component in a client feeling prepared and confident. Thanks to Anne’s unwavering dedication, 100+ job seeker lives have been positively shaped by her job readiness workshops!
Marion has generously gifted over 12,000+ clients of WHW a complimentary haircut coupon since 2005. She is not “just” a hairstylist to the clients of WHW whom she pampers. She is a motivating force in their job search as she boosts their self-esteem, not just through her love of hair, but also her compassion and empathy as she provides her services. Her selfless attitude makes her irreplaceable- and a staple of the signature WHW programs!
UPS’s substantial collaboration through varied and substantial volunteer projects has made a long lasting impact for the clients of WHW since 2007! UPS has supported many special events activities throughout the years but their expertise with operations has made them a critical component of the WHW Saturday Sales as well as Belle of the Ball. UPS employees at all levels, including all top level Executives, spend their time hanging up over 2,500 articles of clothing. This huge endeavor normally takes over six hours to complete – UPS did it in just 35 minutes! Their expertise of person power is also highlighted with their support of the transportation of over 10,000 dresses for Belle of the Ball. More than 10 drivers each year bring their ups truck, and lift the racks into the truck and transport the items safety to the event location. No other company would be able to volunteer their time or expertise in this capacity. And for these reasons, and so much more, we are honored to award UPS a Corporate Volunteer of the Year award!
Boeing corporate volunteerism has allowed the clients of WHW to soar since 2007! Boeing employees from varied departments such as Finance, Engineering, Human Resources (and that’s just naming a few) have all lent their professionalism in the preparation of job search with varied mock interview session and personal shopping activities which have been essential to the job readiness and motivation of job seekers. Boeing employees have also supported fundraising efforts through their involvement with the Saturday Sales as well as naming WHW an award recipient of the 2010 Crystal Vision Awards which granted substantial funding for the expansion of workshops which reached over 1,000 disadvantaged job seekers last year alone. And as if that wasn’t enough, Boeing has hosted the largest, most successful clothing drive spanning over three counties by donating over 28,000 articles of clothing and accessories making this their sixth year as the largest clothing drive at WHW. Thanks Boeing and congrats on being recognized for all your hard work and efforts as the Corporate Volunteer of the Year award!
Michelle’s “get it done” positive attitude has been a catalyst for WHW! She’s proven to be instrumental and volunteered countless hours on the Friends of WHW Fundraising Committee working towards a successful silent auction for over 5 years. Her passion for helping others also shined bright during her 8 years of service as a Board of Director, including her two year term as President.
Ro’s flair for fashion and enthusiasm for WHW shines through her weekly volunteer support in the Men’s and Women’s Professional Apparel Programs as well as her active involvement with Déjà New. Ro’s background in retail is exemplified every time she energetically works with clients, paying close attention to their needs and providing the highest level of client satisfaction and care!
First Bank’s allegiance to WHW clients has shined through their countless volunteer support since 2006! Through an in-kind use of space at a Laguna Niguel First Bank location, WHW is able to receive numerous daily donations from South County donors as well as annual multiple branch clothing drive. These efforts are matched by leadership and professional expertise by key First Bank staff that has held critical Board of Director as well as Fundraising Committee positions. As if this wasn’t enough, Branch Managers host two workshops each month, reaching over 150 job seekers each year with financial literacy courses. A well deserved honor as being named WHW’s first Corporate Volunteer of the Year – congrats First Bank!
Bloomingdale’s is as passionate about philanthropy as they are about fashion! Since 2005, Bloomingdale’s has leveraged their vendor relationships for the benefit of WHW job seekers through irreplaceable charitable acts such as donating high end items for silent auctions or donating and assembling thousands of make-up products and hygiene kits for WHW clients. Bloomingdales has also been the gracious host of numerous unique and highly anticipated events throughout the years. Fashion shows, volunteer appreciation parties, and client image building workshops help support the morale of volunteer and clients alike! Thank you Bloomingdale’s – your advocacy and generosity is much appreciated by all!
Debbie has been our Data Queen for over 7 years supporting fundraising and programming aspects of WHW. She works behind the scenes to support special program data collection systems such a client demographics and even created a fundraising tracking system for special events just for WHW!
Donna, a former WHW client, now turned WHW Volunteer Computer Instructor, has donated over 4 hours per week for the past 10 years! Donna is a part of the WHW family and brings such patience and empathy to WHW clients as she adapts to their changing needs. Donna’s unwavering loyalty and accomplishment are celebrated by all at WHW!
Aleks, the CEO of Blue Lizards Media Inc., has single-handedly sponsored the marketing materials for WHW’s special events for years! Save the dates, signage, programs, invitations- and that’s just naming a few of her tireless dedication of design and technological expertise in support of WHW’s branding, outreach, and fundraising efforts!
Sue takes pride in her volunteer efforts as she works effortlessly with clients in our Apparel Programs as well as a critical component in our Donation Processing Center. Sue has carefully quality controlled and inspected thousands of donations on a weekly basis for over 7 years, ensuring clients have the highest quality of readily available stock!
Nancy, a 15 year breast cancer survivor, volunteers 6 hours every week in our apparel programs helping prepare job seekers for successful interviews. She has proven to be extremely patient and caring with each and every client she works with. Nancy is also critical in engaging new community leaders and resources to promote our special fundraising efforts such as the Gala making Nancy and her family irreplaceable to the success of WHW.
Lauri brings her corporate sense to WHW after successfully spending 25 years in the Healthcare Insurance Operations field as a Director. Her project management skills are essential in the development and implementation of countless fundraisers as she co-chaired the Friends of WHW Fundraising committee. Lauri’s highly effective organizational skills and attention to detail is equally matched by her big heart!
Anne, a retired nurse, brings her compassion and charm to WHW in all that she does. Her willingness to help out in any way possibe – whether it be painting our buildings, picking up clothing donations from all over the county, or helping steam and tag clothing. Anne is only a phone call away and makes herself extremely accessible to WHW!
Lila’s charm, passion, and creative out-of-the-box thinking has made her critical to the success of various special events for years. Whether it is on the Belle of the Ball Committee, the Friends Fundraising Committee, or various marketing or community based projects- if you want something done, you ask Lila!
Yolanda, a retired family business owner, brings her attention to detail and organizational skills to WHW! Her leadership and management were critical to the success of annual fundraising luncheons as she chaired the Friends of WHW Committee for over 5 years. She also spent countless hours, around the clock, multiple days a week, providing behind the scenes administrative support to support the smooth delivery of client services.
Glenda brings her East Coast, New Yorker sense of style and flair to the clients of WHW. She invests her time, paying close attention to each clients needs, as she provides weekly one-on-one image consulting in preparation for critical job interviews. Thanks to Glenda’s consulting and styling sessions, clients are transformed into professional, confident go getters!