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Volunteering Helps Employee Connect with the Community

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Now active in the Topeka community, Capitol Federal’s Senior IT Security Analyst Desiree Perry also was previously on active duty as a soldier in Hawaii and South Korea. Having transitioned from solider to civilian hasn’t been difficult for Desiree because of her involvement with several organizations. Volunteering has connected Desiree to the Topeka community.  

We asked Desiree to answer questions about volunteering this past year with a kindergarten class at Highland Park Central Elementary. Capitol Federal® has been a Partner in Education with Highland Park Central for 20 years, and this was Desiree’s first time volunteering with HPC students.  

Why did you want to volunteer at Highland Park Central?


I wanted to volunteer at Highland Park Central because I really feel like children are our most valuable asset. I love working with children. Some come from a home where they may not have positive influences or someone to look up to. I also wanted to volunteer at the school for exposure - not in the sense that I will get recognition, but I may be the first professional woman or minority the student has had contact with. They may say, “She looks like me, so I know I can do that, too.” I think it is so important to make sure kids can relate and are inspired. Inspiration leads to self-motivation. 

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What are a few of your favorite moments you’ve had as a volunteer at Highland Park Central?


There have been so many great moments working with the kindergarten students. One that stands out was working with a particular student on sight words. She was having trouble with a few words, so I singled those words out to help her understand. By the end of my session, she was breezing through all the sight words with no issue. My other favorite moment is when all the kids come running up to give me a hug. Their gratitude means a lot to me and shows me the impact that I am having on them. Even if the students don’t know it, I want to leave them feeling good about themselves and confident about the life skills they are learning.   

Why is volunteering in your community important?


The opportunities as a volunteer are endless. There are so many ways you can impact someone just by showing up and lending a hand. I believe volunteering with youth is vital because they are going to be our future workforce, policy makers and leaders. A volunteer can change the way a child feels or pique their imagination just by asking them what they want to be when they grow up. Volunteering is not just rewarding for the kids, it’s rewarding for me, too. I feel happier and energized when I leave the class after helping with number, letter, shape or color recognition. I feel great knowing I gave someone the most valuable gift you can give – time and attention. 

Talk a little bit about balancing volunteering and working at Capitol Federal.


It has been a little tricky balancing my work at Capitol Federal with my volunteering schedule. However, I will say that my coworkers, supervisors and Bank management have made my transition from active duty very easy by allowing me to get involved with the community. I could not have landed a better first job, and continuation of my career anywhere else.  

When it comes to volunteering, I make sure my schedule is up to date and clearly defined. This allows me to stay on track and for others to know where I am. It also helps that CapFed® supports my decision to volunteer. My volunteering experience has been less stressful because I’m allowed flexibility to do both my job and my volunteering successfully.  I think about all the positivity CapFed spreads by allowing their employees to volunteer and deliver small acts of kindness.

What advice would you give someone who is thinking about volunteering for an organization?


If someone is thinking about becoming a mentor, volunteer or helping their community in any way, go for it! Make sure you organize your schedule and actively communicate your time with all parties involved.  Also, don’t forget to smile and do your research. Sometimes, what an organization stands for may not be in line with your core values. Make sure that you find the right fit for you.

Are you involved with any other organizations as a volunteer?


Prior to living in Topeka, I was an active duty soldier living in Honolulu and before that, Seoul, South Korea. Those are big bustling cities, where there is always somewhere to go and something to do. I have lived in Topeka for a little over three years, and I’ve planted my roots by volunteering with organizations.  

I am a Non-Commissioned Officer in the 130th Field Artillery Brigade (Kansas Army National Guard) located in Manhattan, KS. I have drilled with them 18 months and I am currently the supervisor of Intelligence Preparation of the Battlefield for the Targeting Section. My section conducts military intelligence analysis and produce targeting packets in support of field artillery operations, subordinate to 1st Infantry Division. While with the Kansas Army National Guard, I proudly mentor three junior soldiers.

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I also am an active member of Kansas City Women in Technology (KCWiT). I attend and support events and will have opportunities to mentor girls and young ladies aspiring to begin a career in the IT field. Lastly, I volunteer at Washburn Rural Middle for events on my stepson’s school team. I help whenever I can!  

Desiree, thank you for your service to our country and to the Topeka community. You sincerely are True Blue® and we appreciate all the volunteer work you do at CapFed.

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