As the Volunteer Manager of IndependeceFirst, a Milwaukee nonprofit with the goal of independent living and full inclusion for people with disabilities, Ana Kleppin manages over 630 volunteers, 85% of which also have a disability. The mission and values of Ana and her volunteers match in a profound way. Ana is the recipient of the Wile Volunteer Management Award, one of the Nonprofit Center of Milwaukee's Inspire by Example awards.
“My parents always told us that if you want something done you have to get out there and do it yourself and don’t wait for someone else to do it. We knew we had to volunteer to make things better,” Kleppin said, explaining her philosophy of volunteerism. “When my volunteers come in they want to make things better, too.”
Kleppin believes she has the best job in the world. Not only is she inspired by the energy of people reaching out into the world even when they aren’t getting paid, but she is honored to be part of the mission of IndependenceFirst, which works for full inclusion and equality for people with disabilities. With so many of her volunteers having a disability themselves, Kleppin has the honor to see her volunteers as the people they are: people with skills, abilities, and will to give back and volunteer.
“My volunteers have talents that no one recognizes,” Kleppin explains. Her job is to find meaningful and rewarding volunteer experiences for them. Kleppin’s work reminds us that the value of volunteering is not just the act of providing a needed service. A most important value of volunteering is the reminder that we all have something to give this world and we should be out there in the world giving it. Kleppin and IndependenceFirst include people with disabilities in the life-giving act of service.
Kleppin has enhanced the volunteer experience at IndependenceFirst in so many ways, from developing an effective volunteer orientation manual, expanding volunteer opportunities to include assisting consumers to live independently with assistance with lawn care, shopping and other tasks as well as developing more online capabilities for volunteers to review opportunities and sign up when they are interested. She also goes above and beyond to celebrate her volunteers’ services with genuine gratitude.
“I want my volunteers to keep coming back and feel like they are part of the family,” Kleppin says. This year Ana Kleppin wins the Wile Volunteer Management Award with 17 years of volunteer management experience.
Join us in honoring all of the Inspire By Example award recipients at the 34th Annual Volunteer Celebration April 7, 2016, 11:30 AM - 01:00 PM CT at the Italian Community Center, 631 E. Chicago Street. Milwaukee, WI 53202. Click here to register online.