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Connecting talent with community

Experience Matters

Experience Matters testimonials

Judy Cummins' smiles while standing in front of a brick wall.

Organization: Central High School

Judy Cummins' story

“What am I going to do next?” That’s the signature question many people find themselves pondering as the journey towards retirement approaches. Take it from Judy Cummins, a former Dean of Students who asked herself that very same question...

On reaching retirement, Judy could not paint a clear picture of what her future would look like. She found herself with the unanticipated but exciting task of determining how best to repurpose her years of teaching and background in counseling to her encore career. Thanks to a good friend Judy was connected to Experience Matters to help her put her amazing skills to work to help the community. Judy applied for a volunteer opportunity and she waited for Experience Matters to find her the perfect match. Her patience paid off and she was soon assigned to helping Central High School with their curriculum development and mentoring programs. Judy has been there four solid years – and counting – and finds the experience life-enriching and purpose-filled.

Judy explains, “Being matched with Central High School as a mentor allowed me to not only build capacity for the program, but also enabled me to foster relationships with the students and establish a team dynamic so connected that we’ve built genuine friendships.” Judy’s Experience Matters match impacted not only her life but the lives of the Central High School students and her overall team. “When we see a child who graduates and has a plan for the future that fits their interests, it fuels a passion within all parties. As mentors we recognize that when we show up and create a steady presence, the school and the students count on us-as a team.”

What’s next for Judy? As she has proven again and again, the possibilities are endless!

Video: Mission of Mercy

A woman wearing a pink collared t-shirt looks up at the camera and smiles.

Organization: Boys and Girls Clubs of the Valley

Jan Bryant's story

One of the more valuable and sometimes surprising lessons Experience Matters share. As an example, Jan notes some of the students will indicate they want to be a chef but were unaware that culinary schools were an available option. “We’re just planting seeds,” Jan says. Additionally, students learn other valuable life skills such as financial literacy, which includes budgeting, investing, credit, and other financial knowledge that these youth may not gain elsewhere.

As Jan’s project came to a close, she created procedures and manuals to ensure that the program lives on after she leaves and can be replicated at other clubs. Jan has expressed that she feels her overall energy is up with this assignment, “because it has to be.” She also notes that she is consistently positive emotionally, even on days when she comes away exhausted from keeping up with these incredible kids. Overall, Jan says that this match has been a great experience and is “so happy” she did it. We personally can’t wait to see what Jan does next! The takeaway for our stakeholders and talent is that even if you spent your entire career working in the private sector, be it banking or construction, journalism or information technology, insurance or health care – your skills can transferred to the nonprofit sector! You can use your teaching experience writing curriculum for an animal welfare agency. You can use your legal background to draft procedures for an organization that helps the homeless. And, you can use your vast experience as a project manager for a utility company to help youth achieve their potential. Such is the case with Jan Bryant.

Jan retired in 2014 after 30 years with the Idaho Power Company. She worked as an Information Technology analyst and then as an IT Leader, where she proposed, implemented, and supervised a new information technology team. As part of her last days at the Idaho Power Company, Jan was a Senior Manager responsible for planning, coordinating, and oversight of a massive underground cable replacement program (over 7 million feet of cable, to be exact.) How does this complicated, and impressive, work for a utility company transfer over to the nonprofit sector?

Jan used her ability to design and implement new programs through her role in creating “Be Great: Graduate” with the Boys and Girls Clubs of the East Valley. Jan’s extensive experience coordinating complementary parts into a cohesive whole also came in handy, as she weaved together several existing standalone programs into this more streamlined effort. “Be Great: Graduate” is a comprehensive dropout-prevention program that encourages kids to graduate and move onto higher education, trade school, or another career pathway. The program helps kids develop career goals, and then identifies avenues to achieve those goals.

Video: Tempe Community Action Agency

Several people sit around a table while enjoying take-out food.

Organization: Kyrene School District

Gene Kochert’s story

Gene Kochert is an Experience Matters Encore Fellow who was involved in many different projects at the Akimel A-al Middle School. Part of the Kyrene School District’s mission is to promote a passion for learning, and they found the perfect Encore Fellow to support that mission.

Gene’s vision was to create a “space” that fosters collaboration and communicates the Akimel A-al culture! Gene Kochert engaged the children in research, development and implementation of solutions in a series of projects! Two of the major projects Gene implemented were the creation of a multi-purpose collaboration space for Students and Faculty as well as an Augmented Reality Sandbox. Gene described a vivid memory of watching the children “light up with excitement as they began curiously engaging with the Augmented Reality Sandbox for the first time, the energy in the room was great!”

The Augmented Reality Sandbox was originally created at the University of California Davis; it’s an interactive 3D model that renders the topography landscape changes in real time. The children interacted directly with this model and it provided both tactile and visual learning experiences! The project took place in multiple steps, including construction and assembly of the model. It supported software such as research and development of curriculum in areas like topology, hydrology, and sustainability. The middle school children were involved in all steps of the project.

Not only was Gene involved in implementing other projects as well as the ones listed above, he has plans in the future to continue his work at the Kyrene School District. Some of these projects include: a greenhouse, desert tortoise habitat, and eventually an Aki-Farmer’s Market. Thank you, Gene, for being a positive impact in our community and helping Experience Matters continue our mission of connecting skills and talent with the community. His impactful advice for other engaged volunteers, “have fun by seeking challenging projects that you are curious about and will have a lasting impact!”

Glenn Hinton smiles at the camera.

Organization: Circle the City

Glenn Hinton’s story

Your cause may be noble; but without a sturdy framework even the most righteous nonprofit won’t get off the ground. Circle the City was in precisely that spot until Glenn Hinton came along.

Opened in 2012, Circle the City’s mission was – and is – to provide medical respite care for recently hospitalized homeless people who would otherwise be forced to recover on the street. Its founding physician, Sister Adele O’Sullivan, M.D., saw clearly that providing effective human care demands human resources – staffers who can do the accounting, keep the building running and keep up with regulations, along with the systems, policies and procedures that would empower those staffers to do their jobs.

As the Experience Matters Encore Fellow for Circle the City, retired Sergeant Major Hinton was the perfect match. During his 23 years in the U.S. Army, and in a second career as an HR executive, Glenn developed a keen eye for talent along with deep experience in creating the structure necessary to keep a new venture running smoothly.

Glenn joined forces with Sister Adele and in short order they had a top-notch team in place. It worked so well that when Glenn’s EM Fellowship was complete, Sister Adele asked him to stick around as Circle the City’s permanent Human Resources Director. Glenn’s three grandkids like how it worked out, too – since Glenn works four days a week, they still get to see him just about as often as they want to.

“Working at Circle the City has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my life. It gives me a feeling of meaningful accomplishment and self-worth.”

Get started with Experience Matters

Experience Matters connects the skills and talent of individuals age 50 and over with social-benefit organizations to enhance their capacity to solve community problems.

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