Volunteers are the heart and hands of IOCP. Their generous time, energy and savvy make our programs possible. From individuals and families to civic groups and corporations, volunteers are the service multipliers who grow our capacity to serve struggling families on a daily basis. Each month, we highlight a volunteer from one of our many programs.
January 2016 Volunteer Spotlight: Tom Finke
Each day we are inspired by the commitment of our community to support the mission of IOCP. Investments of time, resources, and talent help IOCP build its capacity to serve and make this community a better place for all. Longtime IOCP volunteer, Tom Finke, reminds us that we can all contribute in a variety of ways to bring that vision to life.
Tom, share a little bit about your volunteer role at IOCP.
My role at IOCP primarily consists of supporting the medical rides program, which reaches out to individuals in the community who need help with transportation to and from their medical appointments. In this role I am both a driver and dispatcher, processing communications of ride needs for our clients to our pool of drivers in an effort to fill those needs. To help streamline the process of managing this program (i.e. documenting client ride needs, reaching out to drivers and filling those needs), I developed a database application we use to retain ride information, and match drivers to clients and appointment locations, for each ride we do. Today we manage, track and communicate new ride requests to our driver pool using this database application coupled with email. When needed, I also help out with minor IT-related projects and volunteer as a math and algebra tutor for the Wayzata Community Adult Basic Education program.
Why did you choose to get involved with IOCP and, more specifically, why have you volunteered in the ways you have?
I believe that we are all called to reach out and help a neighbor when we can. When I make a medical appointment, I typically don't have to think about how I might get there. Many of the people we serve schedule their medical appointments and have no idea how, or if, they will actually get to the appointment. I don't think this should be a barrier to maintaining good health. I have always felt very blessed in my life with family, friends and many opportunities. Volunteering is a way for me to give back and share what I have learned, while continuing to learn from others. Prior to coming to IOCP, I was tutoring Adult Basic Education (ABE) students with a program called Project for Pride in Living (PPL), located in south Minneapolis on Franklin and Chicago. It was a special experience where I met a lot of very nice people and got quite a few hugs from students who walked the aisle in their first ever graduation ceremony. I then chose to seek out IOCP since it was right in my backyard, so to speak.
What have you learned through your work volunteering in the community?
Whether it is in south Minneapolis or here in the western suburbs, there are a lot of people dealing with a lot of the same problems and issues, day in and day out.
What's been your favorite part of volunteering? What makes it rewarding or meaningful to you?
I really enjoy solving problems and improving processes or the logistics of how processes function. At the end of the day, though, it all boils down to meeting interesting people, creating smiles, seeing heartfelt appreciation and realizing that I did something positive for someone today.
What makes volunteering a priority in your life?
I think there are a lot of influences and things going on in the world today that tend to reinforce barriers and widen that 10 inch space between our hearts and minds. I believe volunteering is a good way to soften those barriers and bring the heart and mind closer. I've always felt that the act of volunteering was similar to the BOGO (buy one get one free) deals. When you buy into volunteering, you sort of help your own pride and character in addition to helping the person your volunteering effort is focused on.
In addition to volunteer work, how else does Tom Finke enjoy life?
I feel very strongly about the importance of family, both in the community and raising my own children. I worked as an engineer in product development at ADC Telecommunications for 17 years and then, after the busiest days of being a stay-at-home dad were behind me, I took on freelance engineering work that involved development of a product concept for a client pursuing a new venture. All the while, I've been so very fortunate to be able to be as close to our four kids as I was while they grew up. I've done a lot of remodel work on our home, I like to cook and am currently on a mini-quest learning how to bake better artisan style breads. I enjoy golfing when the weather is nice, downhill skiing when the weather is not so nice, and I try to get out once or twice a summer to sail in the Apostle Islands of Lake Superior.
Read more about other volunteers:
December 2015 Volunteer Spotlight
Ann Fairbairn, Client Holiday Party Chair
November 2015 Voluneer Spotlight
Jessica Markkula, Development Steering Committee / Food Shelf
October 2015 Volunteer Spotlight
Carol Wexler, Board Member / Fundraising Chair / ReSale 101 Leader
September 2015 Volunteer Spotlight
Cameron Guthrie, ReSale 101 Donation Receiver / Food Shelf Driver
August 2015 Volunteer Spotlight
Andin Dema, Homework Club / Camp CONECT
July 2015 Volunteer Spotlight
Donna Schmidt, Birthday Shelf Coordinator
May 2015 Volunteer Spotlight
Jeanie Faue, Receptionist
March 2015 Volunter Spotlight
Katie Won, Food Shelf Volunteer Scheduler
February 2015 Volunteer Spotlight
David Moore, Interpreter / HW Club / Employment Services
January 2015 Volunteer Spotlight
Inesa Zbarouskaya, Interpreter and Translator
December 2014 Volunteer Spotlight
Peggy Toonen, Holiday Gift Program
November 2014 Volunteer Spotlight
Cole Hartman, Sleep Out
September 2014 Volunteer Spotlight
Sandra Isle, ReSale 101
August 2014 Volunteer Spotlight
Nick Swart, Graphic Design
July 2014 Volunteer Spotlight
Lynn Groll, IOCP Board
May 2014 Volunteer Spotlight
Paty Conchon, Children's Play Area Volunteer
April 2014 Volunteer Spotlight
Mary Taylor, Administrative Volunteer
March 2014 Volunteer Spotlight
Helen Crosson, Food Shelf
February 2014 Volunteer Spotlight
John Sweeney, Employment Services
January 2014 Volunteer Spotlight
Bev Coyne, Education Rides Program
For more information, contact Lynn Vettel or Liz Erstad-Hicks.