Name: Channing Underhill
How long have you been volunteering for Maryhurst?
Actively for the past 5 years but realistically, my whole life.
Why do you volunteer? It all started because my Grandmother DJ was so passionate about the organization. My curiosity was peaked when she was driving girls to doctors’ appointments and getting thanksgiving dinners prepared for the girls. Every year at Christmas and on her birthday she asked for a donation to Maryhurst rather than a gift which I felt was so selfless. I would give her $5, $10 or whatever amount of money I could afford at the time. She was thrilled.
Then My Mom got involved. She joined the board and started spending tons of her time fundraising, planning events to raise funds and awareness, and putting the same heart and soul into the organization that I saw from my Grandmother. It was like DJ “passed the baton” from her to my Mom. It was so cool to see my busy Mom making time to help the girls at Maryhurst.
Then my Mom started getting me involved. She asked me to come to meet and greets, bring colleagues, and pass along the message of Maryhurst. At first I did this to please my Mom, but then I found myself becoming emotionally attached to the cause. Watching the Diane Sawyer video for the first time struck me in a way that I can’t describe. I went from being a “meet and greet” attendee to a passionate believer in the mission of Maryhurst. I am a member of a bible study with an amazing group of girls through which I have been able to organize health and fitness classes for the girls on campus. It is so rewarding to go beyond fund raising and giving money to actually working face to face with the girls. It is difficult and takes extreme patience. But it is so extremely rewarding to see the girls relax, learn about themselves and learn the basic principles of nutrition and wellness.
What do you do when you are not volunteering?
I am an account manager at Enterprise Fleet Management where I help local companies manage their fleet of vehicles using the practices and resources of Enterprise Rent-a-car. One of my clients is actually Maryhurst. I work with Roger Crews and his staff to purchase vehicles, sell vehicles, and manage the maintenance and fuel programs associated with those vehicles. It has been so rewarding to find ways to save the organization money through my business.
Why do you choose to donate your time to Maryhurst?
I think it goes back to the second question. I am extremely passionate about this organization because the women in my family are and they have passed that along to me. I am so privileged to have been raised in a stable family, with loving and supportive parents and siblings. I have never needed anything that I couldn’t eventually attain. These young women at Maryhurst have very different backgrounds. They have to learn how to make in in this world against all odds. There is something so wonderful about the idea that I can be a little piece of their success story.
Can you share an experience with Maryhurst that made you realize you were making a difference?
Watching the groundbreaking of Madeline’s Cottage was an amazing experience. I felt so connected with Maryhurst and the mission of the organization. Part of me felt that I had a very small role in helping the organization get to this point. I felt so blessed to be able to feel that way while watching a new dorm come to life.
What advice would you give someone who is on the fence about volunteering?
If you are worried about the time commitment, don’t fret, there are plenty of ways to help at all different levels of commitment. If you are worried about how you can make a difference, you can honestly “invent” your method of making a difference with this organization. This is a place where anyone is welcome, all ideas are heard and processed, and there is always a need for something or someone to help in whatever way they see fit.