Former client volunteers to help further agency's mission

Sharon Stanton spends her free time spreading the word about Oakland Family Services' programs and mission.

Volunteer Sharon Stanton.jpg

The Royal Oak woman says it's her way of supporting an agency that helped her family during a time of need.

"I love the organization and love the people," she said. "It's made a huge difference for my family so I feel humbled I can give back."

Sharon is part of the agency's Team Impact, a group that works to recruit people to serve as ambassadors. Ambassadors are individuals who invite family, friends, or those with whom they do business or worship, to attend tours at the agency as a way of sharing the good work that Oakland Family Services does.

For Sharon, Oakland Family Services helped build a brighter future for her son, Ned, who was largely nonverbal at 27 months old. He would get angry with intense outbursts and was often reduced to tears. Sharon learned about the agency's Early On program, which helps infants and toddlers with developmental delays. It turned out that Ned had a speech delay, which quickly improved after he began receiving services from Early On.

"For him he's a different person," Sharon explained. "He was so unhappy and now he is so confident. We got him at just the right time, and it made an enormous difference. Oakland Family Services put him on a better path.

"When he was done I was asked if I would be willing to give a testimonial and it grew from there. I was happy to do that. Then I was in a video and after that I started to speak at the Building Brighter Future tours. I love the feeling that I am doing something that supports the agency that supported my family."

Sharon speaks at the Building Brighter Future tours and assists with donor communications. She previously served as an ambassador, which involved inviting 10 people to attend the Building Brighter Future tours.

Oakland Family Services Director of Development Kristin Benton describes Sharon as an ambassador with true passion for Oakland Family Services' mission. Benton said she met Sharon when she shared her experience with Early On at a Building Brighter Futures tour.

"Her sincerity and openness resonated with staff, tour guests, and other volunteers right away," she said. "Sharon is always looking for ways to help the agency, and joined our team of staff, board and volunteers that meets monthly with the goal of helping Oakland Family Services reach sustainability. Her input and enthusiasm are invaluable. She's been a client speaker, an ambassador for our mission, and is truly an integral part of our team. We're extremely lucky to have someone so dedicated to helping us further our mission."

Sharon, who will begin working as a communications specialist at Walsh College in June, is married to Rob Johnson, and they have two children: Mary, 10, and Ned, 7.

Oakland Family Services has a wealth of volunteer opportunities, not only for groups, but also for individuals. If you are interested in being part of building brighter futures, too, contact Valerie Mercadante at or (248) 858-7766, ext. 1218.