Carol is a prime example of the dangers of service: Once a spirit of giving is received, it’s awfully contagious. Having given of herself entirely, Carol’s commitment to kindness is so present in her presence, that a conversation with her about volunteering always seems to end in an invitation. This invitation need not be spoken to be felt, but is rather the natural product of a person that is living on an elevated plane– and with her hands constantly outstretched to anyone that will take them, she lifts her family, friends, and community one bag of food at a time.
Caden: So Carol, you have been an excellent example for a lot of different reasons when it comes to the One initiative, but one of the foremost among those is your tendency and your affinity to volunteer. Can you tell me a little bit about why you choose to volunteer with the One initiative?
Carol: I’ve always been a volunteer no matter where I’ve worked. I’ve been at C.R. England for 12 years. From day one that volunteering was available to us. The One initiative went straight to my heart because it’s kids and just giving to our community.
Volunteering has also been a big thing in our family, partly because I’ve always felt super blessed, so it’s my way to give back.
Caden: That’s beautiful. That’s an awesome way to give back. It’s a very direct way to do so. As you have volunteered, what has been the impact on you? You make a lot of impact on other people when you volunteer, but sometimes we forget to consider vice–versa.
Carol: You’re going to make me cry. This is an interview I shouldn’t have to cry for. I’ve always included my children in volunteering and now have grandchildren, and now they volunteer with me.
The first time I took the grandkids to deliver some food, my daughter cried as she said, “I vividly remember doing this for so many years.” We would do weekend activities where we would take the folded out boxes from the Utah Food Bank and the kids would just decorate a hundred boxes that weekend. It was their way of feeling like they were involved in the delivering of the food as
Now I have the grandkids, and now we take the grandkids along and we’ll do whatever volunteering we do. They’re learning the same things that my kids learned when they were little. We usually talk about why we do it. We talk about why it’s important that grandkids are involved. We tell the grandkids why it’s important for us to volunteer and give back.
Caden: That’s wonderful. What would you say to somebody who is kind of on the fence about volunteering?
Carol: It is such a great feeling, even as just once a month, delivering a couple of boxes of food to somebody. It’s such a great feeling to know that those kids that are in that home, or even just the adults are in that home, have the opportunity to have food.
“It feels good to know that I did my part.”
It’s like, “I’m giving you this. I want you to enjoy this meal. I don’t know what the rest of your life has been like or your future, but at least I have been able to provide for you two boxes of food, which is minor, but it’s just one little check mark in life.”
Caden: Yeah. Those, I think those check marks really accumulate.
Carol: It’s just a great feeling. If we don’t take the grandkids because they’re not available or something like that, then we turn it into a date night.
Caden: That’s beautiful.
Carol: Sometimes we pick up food or sometimes we go home and eat dinner. We talk about how else we can involve grandkids and teach them the same lessons that we taught our kids growing up.
Caden: I absolutely can’t emphasize this enough: I love that tradition that you’ve established in your family. I’m sure with all of that time that you’ve had to invest in each other and invest in the community you’ve had some cool experiences. I want to ask you, is there one, either an individual or an experience that was especially memorable to you in your time of volunteering?
Carol: Honestly, I think my best moment right now that stands out is really the very first time we took the grandkids. My grandkids are now six and three, and the first time I took them, Jonah was probably four. So he could understand some, but he wanted to know like, “Why are we taking groceries to this family? Why are we doing it? Why isn’t somebody else doing it? And why do we need groceries? Why doesn’t their mom do the grocery shopping?” And I would reply, “Well, some people aren’t as blessed to have a mom that can do all the grocery shopping. Some people can’t leave the home.” And you could see his little wheels just turning in his head, like, “Really? Wow. I didn’t think about that.” And as little as they are, we don’t think sometimes that they understand, but they clearly understand because Jonah asks about it all the time.
Caden: That must have been perspective–changing for him.
Carol: You could just tell that it was sinking in. And then even months after he talked to his mom about it, he’ll occasionally say, “Mom, did you know, there’s people out there that don’t have groceries?” He was completely baffled by that idea. I think that’s the most special memory: I’ve been able to make it a family tradition and pass it down to my kids. And my daughter is very much a
volunteer at heart as well. It was a heartfelt moment when I took the grandkids with me and they were learning what she had learned, and when she realized that, she started crying. She thanked me.
Sometimes you forget, you need to teach kids these lessons. They know. They really do understand even from a young age.
Caden: I think the sooner they can gain that understanding, the sooner their perspective changes.
“It just becomes a part of your life.”
Carol: We continue to deliver boxes and we did through all of COVID last year and into this year. It owns the calendar. It just becomes part of who you are and what you do on a week to week basis.
Caden: I love that idea. It becomes part of who you are. Or some of these people that you’ve helped have become a part of you.
Carol: And there’s been families where we have delivered a couple of times to as repeat deliveries. They know you and they know where you’re from.They’re always so welcoming. They always say thank you so very much. I don’t know, it’s like a feeling.
And the folks at Utah Food Bank too! I walk into Utah Food bank and they’re like, “Hey, you’re the first one here from C.R. England.” I’m like, “Thanks for remembering me.”
Caden: There’s no better compliment than when the staff at the volunteering organization knows you by name. I think that says a lot about you as a person, for sure.
Carol: It’s fun. All of my friends know that it’s close and dear to my heart, especially Utah Food Bank. And I volunteer for a lot of different things, but Utah Food Bank is one of my favorite places to volunteer. And so I do a lot of the activities, like the Thanksgiving 5k run. We have been doing this 5k for 10 years now with the family. All of my kids show up. We all meet at my house and I have coffee for everyone. We bundle up and put the grandkids in the stroller, put the dogs on leashes and run the 5k.
Caden: That’s wonderful.
Carol: It is. Then we come home and I’ll bake rolls and put the turkey on the smoker and it’s an all day event, but that’s how we start our Thanksgiving. I think it’s been 10 years now we’ve done that.
Caden: I can’t imagine a better tone setter for your kids.
Carol: AND, you’ve worked off the calories already. So now you can eat whatever you want for Thanksgiving.
Caden: Now we see the actual incentive. I get it.
Carol: Right. But we have raised a good amount of money because I make all my friends do it too. It really kicks off Thanksgiving for me. Thanksgiving is‘s a favorite holiday anyway, but the 5k just gives it a great start.
Caden: That’s beautiful. That is an awesome way to start. And even as a template for your own progression and who you want to be. Service is one of the best means to grow. And you’ve been a shining example of that too.
Carol: Thank you. I try. I was a single parent for a long time. I have two kids and I just think that yes, we’ve had some hard times, but we’ve been blessed. I was very blessed and my kids were blessed and I see no other way better for us than to give back any chance we get. So as crazy as the volunteer activity may sound, we just go and we do it.
Caden: That’s so beautiful. This whole interview has been. I think you’ve provided what will be the readers of this interview with a lot of incentive. I’ve volunteered a couple of times here and there, but I think for me, I’ve been inspired to be more consistent because it’s got lasting dividends, especially when it’s tradition within your family.
Carol: If I can inspire at least one person, then goal obtained.
Caden: Then congratulations.