There are many people that are involved in I Support Community, whether that be through a role on the Board of Directors, a volunteer with our Inside Out Club, or a corporate partner, I Support Community would not be what it is today without each and every one of them.
This month we feature Maura Cannon, Jennifer Norbut and Nicole Rivera.
Maura Cannon, Treasurer of the I Support Community Board of Directors
Maura has been a part of I Support Community from the start of organization, first hearing about the idea from Marion Ruthig, the Founder, sitting out at a fire pit together one night. Not knowing exactly what would come of the idea, Maura remembers the first board meeting saying “little did I realize how big her [Marion’s] vision actually was until we were able to see the initial stages of the website design.”
Maura believes the real game changer was when I Support Community introduced a weekend kids club, known today as the Inside Out Club.
An important piece of taking her now 7 and 10 year olds to Inside Out Club is that Maura wants her “children to grow up knowing there are individuals in this world who live differently than we do, who need our support, compassion, and donations of both time and material things, which we can take for granted.” Maura reflects on her first weekend club she attended with her children, which was making birthday bags for Loaves and Fishes. Maura says “while the kids had fun decorating and filling the bags, it was watching their faces as someone from Loaves and Fishes explained what they do, and why the bags are so important and special as they gave us a tour of the facility, that I saw some understanding finally sink in.” Maura and her kids look forward to each Inside Out Club session, which is helping teach her children “a new character trait or about a local organization” and “developing compassion for others and actually doing a service project to help someone in need.”
As the current Treasurer of the Board of Directors, Maura has financial responsibilities for the organization, reviews documents prior to release, and also provides assistance with marketing for the organization as a member of the Marketing Committee.
Maura believes that others should get involved –
“because we are providing a foundation for our children to become good people and give back for generations to come” and continues on to say “I am not aware of the education and experiences we are providing for young children being offered anywhere else. We need volunteers and monetary donations to continue to be able to provide and grow this amazing club, allowing us to expand our reach.”
When Maura is not spending time with I Support Community, she enjoys spending time with her family, playing games, doing crafts, reading, watching sports or a movie, and traveling.
Jennifer Norbut, Lead Volunteer
Jennifer first heard about I Support Community when her daughter brought home a flyer from school inviting the students at Steeple Run to participate in the Inside Out Club. Jennifer registered her immediately.
Due to the overwhelming interest from students, the two lead volunteers asked if Jennifer could join them in leading a section of students. Jennifer reflects, “I have been very involved in volunteering at my daughter’s elementary school for many years and especially enjoy the opportunities that involve fun, engaging activities with the students. This was a perfect fit.” She is now in her second year of being a Lead Volunteer for the 4th-5th grade section of Inside Out Club at Steeple Run, which has more than 70 students participating in the club.
Jennifer says that others should be involved in I Support Community because –
“it’s a wonderful way to introduce young students to the concept of giving back, not only in our local community, but to communities and people around the world. Awareness is the first step in building a lifelong foundation for compassion, empathy and contribution.”
Jennifer also hopes that I Support Community can “serve as a conversation starter for families. It’s a big win for everyone- the kids, the volunteers and those who benefit from I Support Community’s efforts.”
She ends by saying “I really enjoy being a part of the I Support Community mission and look forward to helping the organization grow and touch more lives in the future.”
In her spare time, Jennifer enjoys hiking, golfing and running with her family.
Nicole Rivera, North Central College Professor
As a North Central College Professor, Nicole first heard about I Support Community through her colleague Greg Ruthig (Marion Ruthig’s husband). Nicole says that “as an Educational Psychologist, I was very interested in the focus of the organization.” Nicole’s first experience with I Support Community was at the 5k run/walk in the fall. She says “it was great to see the children, families, and community members at the event to support the organization.”
Currently, Nicole is working closely with Marion Ruthig, Robin Boggs Choquette (a member of the I Support Community Programs Committee), as well as two other North Central College faculty, Mary Beth Ressler and Kathleen King “to develop an evaluation of I Support Community after school programs. This project will document the program’s success and impact on area youth through observations, feedback from lead volunteers, parent surveys and student activities.”
When asked why others should get involved with I Support Community, Nicole responded-
“there is a growing body of evidence that suggests that children need the types of skills that they can develop through I Support Community for healthy development and future success. Core academic learning is important, but the capacity for empathy, social awareness, collaboration, and leadership are qualities that will shape the future of the children’s lives and our communities in a significant way.”
In addition to teaching at North Central, Nicole spends time engaging in research and evaluation projects with area museums, and is a regular museum visitor and volunteer at the Shedd Aquarium. She also enjoys running and jazz music.