Monday, April 7, 2014

Staff Spotlight: Amy Lenz

Interview with Amy Lenz, Development Associate

How did you come to be at Family House?
When I was at San Francisco State, in the Fall semester of 2005, I took a Community Involvement Course, where you get credit for volunteering. SF State had a whole wall of brochures of different places in the city to volunteer and get involved… I had worked at other nonprofits that raised money for cancer research and support, and since I love kids, Family House was a really good fit, where those things are all combined.

I was at Family House weekly throughout that semester, and I then became a Weekend Manager in 2006.  I worked in the hospitality industry for several years before joining Family House full time as the Volunteer Coordinator in 2009. Also in 2009, I helped start the Family House Young Professionals Advisory Council (YPAC), and was the first Chairperson - our first fundraiser was at Tonic in the Russian Hill neighborhood.

How has Family House changed since you first started?
We’ve hired more people since I’ve been here, so there’s more staff, which is good, because the organization as a whole has really grown as far as the amount of work there is.  We do a lot more outreach, a lot more events - specifically with the work that YPAC has done.  I think we’ve grown as a “brand” in San Francisco, and we’ve built a really strong community for our families and our volunteers through social media. 

When I first got here, we weren’t actively doing social media. We had a Facebook page, and every time we had a volunteer group, we’d put their photos on Facebook, and put that link in the “thank you” email. We still do that today,  but we have a marketing plan now!

And that doesn’t even consider everything that’s happening with Mission Bay. When I got here, the focus was on doing what we do really well, and continuing to get better with that; and now we’re actually looking to expand and scale what we do to a level that will help even more people.

What are some of your favorite Family House memories?
There’s a couple who stayed here, Hank and Ashley Stull, from Central CA - they really influenced me. Their baby, Lorenzo, didn’t develop a diaphragm, and everything in his chest cavity merged together and he ended up passing away.  It’s so sad, but that family, Hank and Ashley, were the sweetest couple, and Hank’s passion was food.  They stayed here for a week after Lorenzo passed, and since Hank was a chef, he ended up cooking a meal for the 10th Avenue staff - me, Greg, Jon, and Joe. They were just the most beautiful, positive people, and they made us this dinner, and they were so thankful… They came back for an anniversary of Lorenzo’s passing, and they had since gotten married and shared photos of their life with us…

It’s a great example of how even when things don’t turn out the way you want them to, there’s still a light. It was still a beautiful experience despite the tragedy.  And they were able to use the baby’s organs to save another child, they used his heart to save another baby. 

Each of the staff here connect differently to different families, and anytime I’ve really had a chance to connect with anyone - the kid or the parents (usually the parents, for me) - it really makes a strong, positive impact on me, and you get a sense of how what we do really helps.

Their story was one of the first posts on our blog:

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