Chairman's Award presented to outstanding volunteers

 FCA US employees Nick Lang, Sarah Hills and Brad Hoffa with Valerie Mercadante, development and engagement coordinator at Oakland Family Services.

FCA US employees Nick Lang, Sarah Hills and Brad Hoffa with Valerie Mercadante, development and engagement coordinator at Oakland Family Services.

Behind the scenes, volunteers are making a difference at Oakland Family Services every day.

Whether they are volunteering in the classrooms at one of our Children’s Learning Centers, sorting gifts for the Adopt-A-Family program, or organizing a food drive for Thanksgiving, these volunteers are helping the agency deliver services to those in the community who need us the most.

And some of those volunteers, whether as a group or individually, give extraordinary amounts of their time, talents and passion to the mission of Oakland Family Services. In 2013, Oakland Family Services began the tradition of showing our appreciation by recognizing these outstanding volunteers with the Chairman’s Award.

This year, employees of FCA US LLC and Kendra Corman are the recipients of the Chairman’s Award. The award is given to volunteers who show a long-term commitment to the agency, help spread awareness about the agency's mission, and build support for clients and families.

FCA US employees, participating in the company’s Motor Citizens volunteer program, have had a significant impact on building brighter futures for preschoolers and their families at our Children’s Learning Center in Pontiac.

Every Friday, FCA US employee volunteers assist in the classrooms, giving teachers the time needed to plan and prepare for the upcoming week. During the school year, the employees also hosted donation drives for art and craft supplies, books, and non-perishable items for the end-of-the-year Children’s Learning Center picnic. They also worked on a large-scale cleanup project on the playground as wells as data entry projects.

Oakland Family Services Board Chair Paul DeRoche recently recognized the volunteers at a Celebration Event, held at Northern Trust Bank.

“Their depth of commitment to making a difference in the lives of others, specifically children in our learning center, is evident in the 150 plus hours of hands on work with our children and staff, and the countless hours of behind the scenes planning this group of 85 volunteers has contributed over the last year,” DeRoche said. “We thank you all for providing the valuable resource of your time and dedication to Oakland Family Services.”

Nick Lang, Sarah Hills, and Brad Hoffa, who spent time organizing events and volunteers, accepted the Chairman’s award on behalf of the FCA US Internal Audit and Compliance department.   

Lang, who enjoys interacting with the preschoolers in their classroom and seeing their enjoyment said, “When you return to visit, they warm up to you. That’s really huge for me. You get to see these kids light up when they see you.”

The FCA US Internal Audit and Compliance department “adopted” Oakland Family Services after touring the agency last year, explained Lang. “We wanted a partnership with a local organization tied to United Way.”.

“We are looking into expanding our volunteer efforts into other areas of the agency,” he said. “For next year, we are exploring opportunities that further align Oakland Family Services needs with the interests of our employees.”

Also making a difference at Oakland Family Services is Kendra Corman, who spearheaded natural playground and classroom improvements at the preschool as part of Michigan State University’s Global Day of Service. Corman’s accomplishments have benefited clients and staff agency wide. In just one year she has:

  • Brought in more than 50 volunteers, adding up to 170 hours of labor through coordinated volunteer projects in April 2017 and 2018.
  • Promoted a fundraiser to purchase items from the agency’s wish list for the natural playground at our Pontiac Children’s Learning Center.
  • Generously contributed to the success of the Thanksgiving dinner and foster care party community impact projects.
 Valerie Mercadante, development and engagement coordinator at Oakland Family Services, with Kendra Corman.

Valerie Mercadante, development and engagement coordinator at Oakland Family Services, with Kendra Corman.

Corman also continues to advocate for awareness of the agency in the community by inviting people to attend our Building Brighter Futures tours and the Building a Brighter Future Breakfast.

“Thank you, Kendra, for choosing Oakland Family Services to fulfill your commitment to the community,” DeRoche told Corman when presenting the award. “Your dedication and partnership are truly building brighter futures.”

Corman said she loves volunteering at Oakland Family Services.

“I believe if we want to make a change, we need to start with children and young people,” said Corman, communications chair of the MSU EMBA Alumni Association. “We can change their lives for the better, so they can be better and more productive adults. The programs Oakland Family Services has for kids are amazing.”

To learn more about volunteer opportunities at Oakland Family Services, contact Valerie Mercadante at (248) 858-7766 ext. 1218 or vmercadante@ofsfamily.org.