Volunteer Profile – Nicole Presperin
Sometimes a toy tells an unexpected story – that’s what Nicole Presperin (pictured above, center), co-chair of the Red Shoe Society Chicago, a networking group of philanthropic professionals that supports RMHC-CNI, realized when she began volunteering as a family ambassador at RMH near Lurie Children’s in 2014 after her son experienced a health issue that inspired her to give back.
“My favorite part of volunteering was watching how excited the kids would get at choosing a toy from the toy closet when their family checked in,” Nicole recalls. “What struck me was how often a child would say, ‘Last time, I picked out this toy, and the time before that I picked this other toy.’ I realized the history they were sharing wasn’t the history of their toys, but the times they or their sibling had to go through a medical procedure where their family needed to stay at the House.”
That seemingly small moment is one that stuck with Nicole when she sought out new ways to support RMHC, which is how she joined the Red Shoe Society as a co-chair.
“We’ve really been elevating the experience for Red Shoe Society members by making the experiences more meaningful and valuable for our members and, ultimately, for the families at the Houses,” Nicole added.
Nicole’s commitment to give back and engage her community was just one of the reasons she was recently honored with the Illinois CPA Society’s Young Professional Leadership Award.
“For four months, my family and I were in and out of the hospital with our son. At the end of the day, we were able to go home. But the families in those waiting rooms stayed with me – they couldn’t bring their kids home,” Nicole recalled in her speech at the Illinois CPA Society’s Young Professional Leadership Conference.
“It’s easy to feel like the problems in the world are insurmountable, that only change on a grand scale makes a difference. But one hour of my time can serve a family dinner in the kitchen, give a parent a small break or, my favorite part, take a child to the toy closet where they can pick out a new toy. These small acts drive a big change and make a tangible impact on another person’s life. It matters.”