Lisa Beranek, Clark Public Utilities' StreamTeam
Lisa Beranek carried her family's passion for volunteering into her adult life, and now applies it to her job managing volunteers and working to save the troubled Salmon Creek Watershed.
[Lisa Beranek with two StreamTeam volunteers]
By Rebecca Hunt, Communications Intern
Growing up, Lisa Beranek experienced first-hand the struggles many nonprofits face to accomplish their goals with limited resources. Her mother worked in the administrative offices of a small school district, and Lisa says her mom was always volunteering her time, whether at the school, at their local church, or in other areas of the community.
They also spent a lot of time volunteering as a family. Their budget was tight and volunteering allowed them to participate in activities otherwise unavailable to them - including the local "Miss" pageant and local church and community festivals.
These experiences of meeting amazing people and visiting new places all while making a difference built a strong foundation for Lisa. Volunteering was a way of life for her, and she was determined to carry that commitment into adulthood. "It's very important to me to feel like I'm making a difference," she says.
Serving as an Americorps volunteer is a great way to do that, and Lisa served three terms in various programs. She also continued to volunteer her time in other areas of the community, from one-time festivals to unique and on-going experiences like teaching kids character building skills through snowboarding. She finds great fulfillment in improving other peoples' lives. "I'm always impressed by what we can accomplish when we come together," she says.
After Americorps Lisa continued to pursue her goal of making volunteering a permanent part of her life and her career. In 2006 she interviewed for a position with a project called StreamTeam. StreamTeam is a volunteer-driven program of Clark Public Utilities in Vancouver, Wash., that is addressing the problems facing the Salmon Creek Watershed.
At her StreamTeam interview Lisa remembers saying that she "lives to work and works to live," meaning that it's very important for her to tie her personal goals with her professional goals to build a fulfilling existence.
And she's getting that opportunity now. Lisa became the StreamTeam Coordinator at Clark Public Utilities and is providing environmental education and striving to bring the community closer by spreading the volunteer spirit. Lisa's job is to coordinate the volunteers who want to reconnect with nature and help bring salmon back to Salmon Creek. "I see volunteerism as a life long adventure!" she exclaims.
How does it feel to suddenly be the coordinator and not the volunteer? With Lisa's background in volunteering she knows what it's like from both sides and has that essential empathy, understanding and compassion to help her volunteers do great things. "Working with them allows the worst day to be transformed into the best," she says.
Volunteers and volunteering will always have a special place in Lisa's heart. "I've been lucky enough to witness families come together while planting trees, watching them cheer their toddler on to kiss each newly planted sapling. I've witnessed awkward teenagers build knowledge and confidence through the completion of wildlife habitat projects. It's moments like these that really make me feel fortunate to be a part of our team and a part of the national movement of volunteerism."
About Clark Public Utilities' StreamTeam
StreamTeam is a volunteer-driven program of Clark Public Utilities that proactively addresses the problems facing the Salmon Creek watershed. Since the program’s inception in 1992, more than 600,000 trees have been planted to restore approximately 120 acres of land along 15 miles of stream length.
Clark Public Utilities
P.O. Box 8900
Vancouver, WA 98668
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