C2C Staff Spotlight: 8 Questions with Chris Bentson

Chris Bentson is the Manager of Foundation & Corporate Relations in the Development Department of C2C in Boston. He has been at Cradles to Crayons for almost 4 years. He started out as a part time staff member on the Volunteer Team and then an AmeriCorps VISTA in the Development Department before moving into his current role in August of 2008.

What were you doing before you worked at Cradles to Crayons?   
I taught preschool at a Catholic Charities child care center in Jamaica Plain.

Describe working at Cradles to Crayons in 3 words or less. 
Fun. Inspiring. Chaotic.

What is your favorite part of working at Cradles to Crayons? 
When I get to work with volunteers! It doesn’t happen too often any more, but I love it when it does.

Where are you originally from? What do you miss most about your hometown?
I grew up in Jamaica Plain, so it’s hard to say I miss much. I do really miss playing Little League though.

What was your favorite book, toy, or outfit as a child? 
I loved my Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle action figures. My favorite was Donatello.

What do you like to do in your spare time? 
I enjoy playing softball, soccer, and frisbee, I love to cook, and I’m a big craft beer enthusiast.

Describe what you were like at age 10.
Like I am now, but shyer. And shorter.

If you were stuck on a deserted island and could only take 3 things OR one other C2C staff member with you what/who would they be?
That’s easy- I’d take Donald with me. I’d never be bored, and between the two of us I’m pretty sure that we could figure out how to make a sailboat or a helicopter or something out of vines, driftwood, and some banana leaves.

Thanks for sharing, Chris! Stay tuned for more staff spotlights each Friday.

July 29, 2011 at 2:39 pm Leave a comment

C2C Staff Spotlight: 8 Questions with Ashley Tarbet

Ashley Tarbet manages a new program here at Cradles to Crayons called the Giving Corps. The Giving Corps is a series of service leadership programs for teens, college students, and adults. She recruits, trains, schedules, and manages the Teen Leadership Corps, College Corps Internship program, and Champion Corps program for adults. She also has the opportunity to work with volunteers some days in The Giving Factory. Ashley started at Cradles to Crayons in July 2009 after graduating from Emerson College. When she began she was an AmeriCorps*VISTA volunteer filling the role of Volunteer Outreach Coordinator. After her VISTA year ended she was hired on as Group Volunteer Coordinator and Corporate Liaison, and was finally selected as Giving Corps Volunteer Manager upon creation of the program.

What were you doing before you worked at Cradles to Crayons?
Before working at C2C I studied Political Communications and Social Advocacy at Emerson College in Boston. While there, I volunteered and interned for an organization called Jumpstart, mentoring, teaching and serving preschool children in at-risk situations. I also worked for some time at the Boston Children’s Museum.

What is the best part of your job?
The best part of my job is working with other people as excited about serving children as I am, and getting youth interested in and excited about service.

What is your favorite station in the Giving Factory to work at?
My favorite station to work at is the Library. I love books and I love children’s books even more. It’s so much fun to sort through kids’ books, flip through them, and find books I loved when I was a kid. I love to hear stories from volunteers about the books they find too.

What was your favorite book, toy, or outfit as a child?
I loved the book “Are you my Mother” by Dr. Seuss because it was the first book I read all on my own. I also loved the “Corduroy” books because he was adorable and his adventures were exactly the kind of thing I imagined when I was a kid.

What is your favorite memory from working at Cradles to Crayons?
Hide and Seek and rolling bin races in the Quincy warehouse.

What do you like to do in your spare time? 
I love to cook! I am vegan and cooking and baking for myself, my friends, and my family is one of my favorite things to do. It has actually turned into a hobby too.

If you could meet one celebrity, who would it be?
I would have loved to meet Joe Strummer of The Clash. He was an idol of mine growing up because of the music he made and the movement he represented. It would have been amazing to have just one conversation with him about music, politics, and life. He was a very intelligent person with lots of really big ideas.

What children’s character can you relate to most?
I think I relate most to Hermione from the Harry Potter series. I am very much a know-it-all (ask any staff member!), but am very loyal to my friends and my team, and am more than willing to stand up for what I think is right, even in the face of adversity.

Thanks for sharing, Ashley! Stay tuned for more staff spotlights each Friday.

July 26, 2011 at 12:23 pm 1 comment

Donate with Dignity: Clothing

Cradles to Crayons depends on our dedicated community volunteers to provide us with their new or gently used children’s items so we may redistribute them to kids in need. We appreciate that it is not always easy to give the time it takes to clean out closets and transport items to C2C, which is why everyone at Cradles to Crayons thanks our donors for standing up and taking action. The efforts provide direct relief to those who are most in need of a helping hand.

Our volunteers spend time in our Giving Factory inspecting and sorting the donated items to ensure the children we serve receive the highest quality items possible. We recycle items that do not meet our quality standards whenever possible, often passing them on to organizations who can use what we can’t, but this process requires valuable resources.  Donors can help by doing some of this processing in their homes, thereby helping us to further improve our efficiency and serve more children.  This is the first in a series of blog posts that will offer ideas on how to make sorting and inspecting donations at home fun and educational.

Donating your clothing “C2C Style”

Goal: To teach everyone in the family that donating can be fun

What you need: 3 bins or bags labeled “Cradles to Crayons”, “Trash”, “Other”, and rubber bands

    1. Take clothing and shoes out of your closets or dressers that no longer fit or that you no longer wear
    2. Hold up each item and inspect it thoroughly
      • Any items containing any stains, tears, have missing buttons, broken zippers, are labeled with a town/summer camp/or child’s sports team, or are outdated should be placed in the “Other” bin or bag. Additionally, anything with a religious, family, or holiday affiliation should be placed in the “Other” bin or bag.
      • Multi-piece outfits including PJs can be rubber banded together OR a shirt in a pant leg and put in the C2C bag
    3. All clothes should be removed from hangers
    4. Any used underwear or socks should be discarded in the trash
    5. Shoes in good quality can be rubber-banded together and put in the C2C bag

Here are some examples of what not to put in your C2C bin:

Tie dye is fun, but this shirt has a whole in the sleeve!

Walpole is a great town, but a kid who plays soccer for a rival town may not agree.

We love purple at C2C, but this pair of shorts has stains on it!

Select an organization to bring the items in your “Other” bag. An organization such as Salvation Army can make use of the clothing that does not meet C2C’s quality standards. Bring your Cradles to Crayons bag filled with high quality clothing items, no matter what the season, to The Giving Factory or one of our permanent drop-off locations.

We are in great need of clothing this summer, so start your own sorting station at home today!

July 19, 2011 at 2:51 pm Leave a comment

C2C Staff Spotlight: 8 Questions with Sarah Busbey

Sarah Busbey is the Distribution Coordinator at C2C in Philadelphia. In her role she gets to interact with hundreds of incredible social workers, teachers, preachers, etc. that are as passionate about helping young children in need as she is. Basically, she has “the coolest job on the planet.” One year Sarah was an AmeriCorps VISTA, one year she was a full time Distribution Coordinator…and who knows what’s next?

Describe working at Cradles to Crayons in 3 words or less.   
High energy, yumminess.

Is there anything you have always wanted to do while working at Cradles, but haven’t yet? 
We have been talking about doing a Cradles to Crayons “Giving Games” in the near future where teams would participate in traditional and non-traditional warehouse duties that would be adjusted to fit a relay format.  It will be fun, innovative, physical and competitive…all characteristics of an event that has my name written all over it.  This is what I have been waiting for!

What story about a child we have served has stuck with you most?
Just yesterday, a partner called in need of an emergency order for a father whose kids have just lost their mother in a car accident within the past few days and to top it all off have been locked out of their home because of their inability to pay the rent.  The staff at the partnering agency put out an email blast to one another looking for any type of assistance they could get for the family.  This particular partner instantly thought of C2C and called me right away.  She’s in the process of gathering their sizes and needs, so we should be sending out personalized packages to each of the children within the next couple of days.  I hope this small token from the community can put even the slightest smile on their faces.  My heart goes out to those sweet little babes.

Where are you originally from? What do you miss most about your hometown?
Gettysburg, PA.  I miss the understanding of simple word pronunciation and vocabulary.  I miss that the word hammock  sounds like (ham) (mock) and not (hammick), water is pronounced (what) (er) and not (wooter), a covered dish is what you bring to a public gathering to share and that lunch is actually called dinner and supper still exists.

What was your favorite book, toy, or outfit as a child? 
Hands down, my Laura Ingalls Wilder “costume.”  There was a slight obsession with the “Little House” books and the TV show.  I had the neutral, floral printed dress; little, leather boots; leggings; long, piggy-tail braids; and the bonnet to seal the deal.  I say “costume,” but I definitely rocked this look more often than just Halloween.  It was an added bonus that I happened to look just like Melissa Gilbert as a child.

Where do you see yourself in 5 years? 
Oh man…I see myself doing a million and one things.  To name a few…I hope to be fighting fires like a semi-pros, saving lives as an EMT, educating people about fitness and nutrition, raising awareness of the volunteer fire service, competing in crazy/exotic races and adopting a sweet puppy that I will name Garcia.

If you could meet one celebrity, who would it be? Chris Powell, for sure.  He’s a transformation specialist.  Most recently, he is known for his TV show, “Extreme Makeover, Weight Loss Edition,” but he has been successful in transforming lives of the morbidly obese for some time now.  His passion for wanting to help those in need, his constant positive attitude, humble personality and genuinely, sweet smile are a few reasons why I’m his number one fan.  Did I mention how darn cute he is?

If you were stuck on a deserted island and could only take 3 things OR one other C2C staff member with you what/who would they be?
Dennis Beck (Business Manager at C2C Philadelphia…and Boston actually).  This is the man to have around in a pinch.  He would cook me elaborate breakfasts, separate my whites from my coloreds, do my taxes (just because the island is deserted, I don’t assume I can avoid “the man”), and read me “Snuggle Piggy and the Magic Blanket” before the sun goes down.

Thanks for all you do at C2C, Sarah! Stay tuned for more staff spotlights each Friday.

July 15, 2011 at 2:05 pm Leave a comment

C2C Staff Spotlight: 8 Questions with Jaci DiMare

Jaci DiMare is a Community Outreach Intern at Cradles to Crayons in Boston. She has been interning since the beginning of May and plans to continue until school resumes in fall.

What were you doing before you worked at Cradles to Crayons?
I attend Southern New Hampshire University where I will be a senior in the fall. I also worked at BOB’S Clothing Store.

Why did you decide to work at Cradles to Crayons?
I first came to Cradles last May when I did a community service project with Hugh O’Brien Youth Leadership Seminar (HOBY). The following December I went to South Africa for an alternative break with my school. On the trip we helped to fix a moldy, run down safe house for children to live because they had parents who were dealing with substance abuse issues and the living conditions at home were not safe.  When I returned home from South Africa I remembered my experience at Cradles and how many children just in Massachusetts were in need of help. I decided that I wanted to focus my passion for helping those in need on helping children close to home.

What is your favorite station in the Giving Factory to work at?
My favorite station in the Giving Factory is Outfits because I am Fashion Merchandise and Marketing major with a minor in Retail. Putting outfits together is perfect for me!

What is your favorite memory from working at Cradles to Crayons?
My favorite memory so far from working at Cradles is when the 2011 HOBY seminar attendees volunteered. We fit all 230 HOBY students into the Giving Factory and had every station up and running. I had never seen a group as large at Cradles, so it really amazed me.

What do you like to do in your spare time?
In my spare time I like going to the beach during the summer and skiing in the winter. I also enjoy running, playing soccer, singing, hanging out with my friends, and going to the movies and the mall.

Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
In five years I see myself as a Manager of a retail store that also donates clothing to the community. I also hope to be engaged and living in my own apartment.

If you could meet one celebrity, who would it be? 
I would either want to meet Keith Urban or Rascal Flatts because I absolutely love their music and have gone to each one of their concerts since I was 17 years old. I also would love to meet Christano Ronaldo, who is a Professional Soccer Player for Portugal.

Describe what you were like at age 10.
At age ten I was a “witch at times,” says my mother.  I do not think I was the easiest child to live with. I was not cooperative and I would throw temper tantrums. I was also an active ten year old; I played soccer, danced and played basketball. I believe I was in the 4th grade at this age and at recess we would play house.

Thanks Jaci! We love having you as an intern this summer.

July 8, 2011 at 2:06 pm Leave a comment

C2C Staff Spotlight: 8 Questions with Maureen Saraco

“I’m glad that we were able to help, but it’s absolutely insane and heartbreaking that these kinds of situations exist for children in our city.”

Maureen Saraco is a Development Associate at Cradles to Crayons in Philadelphia. She helps to raise money for the organization’s general operations and programs, primarily by writing researching and writing grants to foundations and corporations. Maureen has been at Cradles to Crayons for two years. She was hired the day after she graduated from college.

What is your favorite part of working at Cradles to Crayons?
My favorite part of working at C2C is the people I work with. We have a great group that gets along really well. We work well together, but we are also genuine friends. I think that’s a pretty rare thing to have in the workplace.

What is your favorite station in the Giving Factory to work at?
I can’t decide between clothing packs, orders, and books. I love these three because I really get to imagine the individual children who will receive the items. I try to get the volunteers that I work with to imagine them too, and try to think about how they can make each clothing pack, book bundle, or each KidPack special and unique for the child who will receive it.

What story about a child we have served has stuck with you most?  
A few years ago we had a partner who works in foster care come to speak at our winter fundraiser. She told a story about two children who were left at a swimming pool. All they had with them were their wet bathing suits, but C2C was able to provide them with emergency KidPacks that contained a week’s worth of clothing, books, toys, shoes, and school supplies. I’m glad that we were able to help, but it’s absolutely insane and heartbreaking that these kinds of situations exist for children in our city.

What was your favorite book, toy, or outfit as a child?
I was a really imaginative kid. I read all the time. My favorite books were anything by Roald Dahl, but especially Fantastic Mr. Fox and Matilda. I also liked The Babysitter’s Club, The Egypt Game, and From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler. When I wasn’t reading, I was playing Barbies with my sister. We had set characters and storylines that continued for years; it was like our own mini soap opera.

What do you like to do in your spare time?
I don’t have a ton of spare time right now because I’m getting my Master’s in English literature at Rutgers University. In addition to taking classes, I also teach two sections of freshman English at Rutgers each semester. When I do have free time, I love to hang out with my friends, watch TV, and read. I spend as much time as possible at my family’s shore house in Wildwood, NJ.

If you could meet one celebrity, who would it be?
Oh man, I have a celebrity bucket list so it’s hard to choose just one. I intend on meeting all of them at some point, but if I had my pick, I’d want to meet either J.K. Rowling or Hillary Clinton. I’m never going to just run into either of them on the street, and I have so many questions for each of them about their work and their views. It wouldn’t be enough to just get a picture and an autograph…we’d need to do dinner.   

If you were stuck on a deserted island and could only take 3 things OR one other C2C staff member with you what/who would they be?
Honestly, it’d probably benefit me more to take a C2C staff member rather than three material possessions. If Sarah Busbey, Joe Spause, and Brian Kindle can run the Tough Mudder race, they can definitely survive on a deserted island longer than I could. Plus, any one of them would be good company!

What children’s character can you relate with most?
Though I have never had to destroy a horcrux, I feel like I can relate to Hermione Granger from the Harry Potter books. She’s a smart girl who works hard and cares about social justice issues. She’s also a loyal friend. Not a bad fictional character to want to be like!

Thank you for allowing us to learn a little about you, Maureen! Best wishes for a fun and relaxing 4th of July weekend. Stay tuned for another staff spotlight next Friday.

July 1, 2011 at 10:00 am Leave a comment

C2C Staff Spotlight: 8 Questions with Lindsey Cuddeback

“Growing up, I was fortunate enough to have everything I needed and I feel like it’s my duty to help children who may not be as fortunate.”

Lindsey Cuddeback is an AmeriCorps VISTA completing a year of service as the Marketing and Development Coordinator at Cradles to Crayons in Boston. She creates all of the newsletters, e-mail blasts, brochures, invitations, signage, and manages the website.

Why did you decide to work at C2C?
I wanted to do my year of service at a place that helped children. Growing up, I was fortunate enough to have everything I needed and I feel like it’s my duty to help children who may not be as fortunate.

What is your favorite station in the Giving Factory to work at?
OUTFITS. I think it’s just really fun to pick out cute clothes for children.

What story about a child we have served has stuck with you most?
I was working on a one-sheet that detailed our need for shoes and found a story about a 4 year old girl named Navaeh. Her mom couldn’t figure out why Navaeh didn’t want to go to the playground, why she would cry and not play with her peers. Her mother eventually realized that Navaeh’s feet hurt because her shoes didn’t fit her correctly. Unable to afford new shoes, her mom had one of our partners place an order with us. After Navaeh received her new pair of shoes, her mother noticed a huge difference – she was now excited to go to the playground and play with her friends.

Working at C2C you don’t always get to see the impact of your work. Yes, you can figure out how many children we’ve served – how many KidPacks we’ve given out and how many school supply filled backpacks we distributed, but you don’t get to see the child’s smiling face when they receive their KidPack. You don’t get to see that the brand new birthday present a 6 year old child just received may be the only new toy he gets all year. You don’t get to see the way a 12 year olds self-esteem is lifted now that she has clothes that fit her that aren’t hand-me downs from her older siblings. Quite simply, you may not see the ripple effect that happens when a child gets the everyday essentials they need. You just never know how much it can impact each child.

Where are you originally from?
I’m originally from Cadillac, Michigan. If you were sitting in front of me, I’d point to it on my hand and show you exactly where I’m from! I miss a lot about my hometown. I miss the way you walk down the street and wave at complete strangers like they are your BFF. I miss the summers there: bonfires, camping, walking around the lake. But most of all, I miss the pizza from this tiny pizza joint called G&D. YUM.

What was your favorite book, toy, or outfit as a child?
Ok, so it’s not an outfit, toy or book, but it’s a purse that was actually a shoe! See picture. 

What do you like to do in your spare time?
I’m kind of a dork, so I love: reading, writing, crocheting and knitting, sewing, watching TV, exploring new places, and pretending to be good at things.

Who is your role model?
My mom. Yeah, I’m a nerd but she’s just awesome. She will do anything for anyone and she’s just an all-around cool chick.

If you could meet one celebrity, who would it be?
Oh man, this is a difficult question but I’m going with Paul McCartney because I am a huge Beatles fan and that would just be awesome.

Thank you for allowing us to learn about you, Lindsey! Stay tuned for more staff spotlights each Friday.

June 24, 2011 at 10:23 am Leave a comment

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