Amy Kouba began volunteering for Dolls for Daughters two years ago. It was through another volunteer that she first learned about us. It’s so gratifying when our volunteers love spreading the word about Dolls for Daughters. It seems that their enthusiasm is often so contagious that their family and friends just naturally want to get involved. And DfD is the lucky recipient of all that love!!

1. Why did you decide to volunteer with Dolls for Daughters?

I learned about DfD from Tonya Bradshaw, who I met through the Cherry Creek Jaycees. Tonya nominated Jessica for a state award called Outstanding Young Coloradoan and Jessica was picked. She was then moved on to the national level and also chosen. That is how I learned about the organization and grew to know Jess more and more and of course wanted to volunteer and help as much as I could.

2. How long have you been a volunteer with Dolls for Daughters?

Two years. This year will be my third Toy Shop.

3. What is your most memorable experience volunteering with Dolls for Daughters and which event was it at?

I would have to say my first year at the Toy Shop. It was just amazing to see how many families were impacted by what Jessica has done. I received so many hugs from people—children and adults who were appreciative. I saw many tears of joy that day.

4. Have you participated in any fundraising event that Dolls for Daughters had held?

The Bowl A Thon this year.

5. Have you shared your volunteer experience with your friends and family? If so, what was their reaction? 

I have. Many have donated and many have come to the Toy Shop to volunteer and agreed that it was an amazing experience.

6. If you did share your experience, have any of your friends or family become Dolls for Daughters volunteers because of it?

Yes. I have had many friends volunteer for DfD.

7. With so many organizations in need of volunteers, what suggestions or advice do you have for people who consider volunteering, especially when it comes to choosing where to offer their help?

I have many friends who have helped. I just told them about the organization and invited them. So, to get more people involved, all you have to do is ASK!!! Oftentimes, someone you know would love to volunteer and help out a charity or other non-profit organization but they just don’t know where or how to begin. When they hear about what you’re doing, they often know that’s their answer—to join you. So be sure to tell others about what you’re doing and why.

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Nick Rusho has been a part of Dolls for Daughters since 2010. He recommends that one of the best ways to find a cause you care about is word of mouth. By listening and taking the time to find out what your family and friends are doing, how they choose the organization where they volunteer and why, you can find a place that touches you. As Nick explains, it is because of his good friend Kirsten that he learned about and became involved with Dolls for Daughters. We are honored to have him as part of our team. He goes out of his way to get his employers involved too. Nick is truly an inspiration and a gift!

1.      Why did you decide to volunteer with Dolls for Daughters?

I started volunteering with the Dolls for Daughters organization with my good friend Kirsten Zelenak. Kirsten explained to me more about Dolls for Daughters and how she had become involved with Jessica and her cause. I have been extremely happy ever since I began volunteering with this organization. I am really glad I decided to take that step in 2010 and am able to help make the lives of all the families I meet a little better.

2.      How long have you been a volunteer with Dolls for Daughters?

I have been volunteering for the organization for almost three years now. Every year the events get bigger and more successful too!

3.      What is your most memorable experience volunteering with Dolls for Daughters and which event was it at?

The best experience so far was helping last year in December 2011 when the organization got the Food Bank of the Rockies involved and was able to not only give the thousands of families presents and make their Christmas amazing but they were also able to give them a great Christmas dinner! Every family received gifts along with boxes and boxes of food for their holidays.

4.      Have you participated in any fundraising event that Dolls for Daughters had held?

I have participated in various Dolls for Daughters fundraising events. When I first started volunteering for Dolls For Daughters I was associated with Kohl’s. The benefit of having Kohl’s involved with events is that for every five people who volunteer their time, the corporation donates $500. With their help, we were able to donate our time and money from Kohl’s to Dolls for Daughters. The Bowl-a-thon at Elitch Lanes was extremely successful too because we were able to donate $1,000 because we had 10 volunteers! It was the most successful Bowl-a-thon the organization has held so far, with sold-out lanes and more people than expected in attendance. It just shows that not only are Jessica and her team a great crew to work with…they are making an incredible impact on the community.

5.      Have you shared your volunteer experience with your friends and family? If so, what was their reaction?

Yes I have! They have been very accepting, positive and very interested in Dolls for Daughters. I have shared my interest with my current employer as well. Sam’s Club is more than happy to have us donate our time and help in whatever ways we can for the cause. Sam’s Club also partners very closely with Food Bank of the Rockies, so this year should be an even greater year for Dolls For Daughters.

6.      If you did share your experience, have any of your friends or family become Dolls for Daughters volunteers because of it?

Not currently. They have not so far, but more people through my employers are getting involved and showing more interest towards the cause and in wanting to help Jessica and her team.

7.      With so many organizations in need of volunteers, what suggestions or advice do you have for people who consider volunteering, especially when it comes to choosing where to offer their help?

The best advice I can tell anyone who is looking for a volunteer organization is to look online at the different types of volunteer classifications, see what interests you and then go from there. Another thing I would suggest is to talk with friends and family and network with people. Word of mouth is the best type of advertisement and the most inspirational.

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In February 2012, Donna met with Jessica to learn about Dolls for Daughters. In that one meeting, Donna offered to write for Dolls for Daughters. As a writer and editor, it was a natural way to support DfD. Once again, it’s amazing to see where the power of conversation and the spark of open-heartedness can take us.

1.    Why did you decide to volunteer with Dolls for Daughters?

I initially met with Jessica back in February of this year to learn more about her and Dolls for Daughters. We also discussed the book she is writing about her experience of being pregnant and then losing Kenzi. As Jessica shared her story of transformation, I was so moved that I couldn’t help but want to find a way to be connected with her and DfD. Jessica’s inspiration, her desire to help others, and her ability to transform her pain and grief are contagious. She reminds us that every single one of us can make a difference. We don’t have to start a nonprofit as Jessica has done, but we can volunteer or simply touch another person by smiling or lending a helping hand.

2.    How long have you been a volunteer with Dolls for Daughters?

It began in March of this year.

3.    What is your most memorable experience volunteering with Dolls for Daughters and which event was it at?

I have not yet attended an event. Since my work is more behind the scenes (the newsletter and some of DfD’s blogs), I would say what has been most memorable so far is learning about some of the other volunteers—about how and why they got involved and what they’re doing. I’ve been amazed at the busy women who still find time to give, along with 11-year-old Bryn who is an inspiration for young and old alike.

4.    Have you participated in any fundraising event that Dolls for Daughters had held?

Not yet.

5.    Have you shared your volunteer experience with your friends and family? If so, what was their reaction?

I have shared with some of my friends that I am volunteering my time. When I’ve shared Jessica’s story, I’ve brought some of them to tears. It’s stories like Jessica’s that help us all open our hearts a little wider!

6.    If you did share your experience, have any of your friends or family become Dolls for Daughters volunteers because of it?

Not yet. 

7.        With so many organizations in need of volunteers, what suggestions or advice do you have for people who consider volunteering, especially when it comes to choosing where to offer their help?

I would tell people to volunteer with organizations that touch their hearts. Because there are so many, even using that criterion can be a challenge, because if you have a big heart, you want to help them all. So, the second piece of encouragement is to choose maybe one or two to focus on and give your “all” to them. Rather than spread yourself thin, and do a little here and there, by focusing on one or two at most, you can show up in a bigger way and have a greater impact. Above all else, remember that every single one of us does truly make a difference whether we devote an hour a month, a week, or a day. If everyone gave even one hour a year, imagine what could be possible for our world!

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Volunteer Jennifer Prye has known Jessica Bachus for a number of years. Even in the midst of her busy work and family life, she finds time to dedicate to Dolls for Daughters. Jennifer is in federal contracting and works on developing grant proposals and supporting biomedical research in the Department of Defense. She’s been lending her expertise to Jessica and has committed to helping at a rate of approximately five grants per year. When the grant-writing process is in full swing, she spends about 5-10 hours per week devoted to Dolls for Daughters.

1. Why did you decide to volunteer with Dolls for Daughters?

Jessica is a long-time friend and co-worker of mine. Her story and friendship have touched my life in more ways than one. From teaching together in the heart of inner-city Denver, to being able to call her out of the blue while PCSing to a new Air Force Base in San Antonio (yes, I was literally in the car pulling away from Nellis AFB in Las Vegas with my husband in front of me) asking her for advice on how to get my unborn son to sleep through the night quickly, to dealing with multiple kids and a husband who has a demanding job…I can always count on Jess! Best part is, her advice is always so helpful

I am also so proud of her and her accomplishments and strength. It’s the least I can do to support her and volunteer for Dolls For Daughters.

2. How long have you been a volunteer with Dolls for Daughters?

Approximately one year.

3. What is your most memorable experience volunteering with Dolls for Daughters and which event was it at?

Watching the CBS special… I was able to witness an absolute blessing morph into something special. I thought to myself, I HAVE to find a way to volunteer from afar. Soon after, we discussed how I could help with writing for grants to secure and develop her organization.

4. Have you participated in any fundraising event that Dolls for Daughters has held?

No, unfortunately I live too freaking far away! But I’m determined to make it to a toy shop one day soon!

5. Have you shared your volunteer experience with your friends and family? If so, what was their reaction?

YES! My mom and dad are avid supporters and are so excited for her. My mom helps mentor us along in the grant writing process!

6. If you did share your experience, have any of your friends or family become Dolls for Daughters volunteers because of it?

With the exception of my mom, all of my close circle of friends and family just don’t live in the Denver area. Otherwise…I don’t think she would be able to get rid of us!!!

7.    With so many organizations in need of volunteers, what suggestions or advice do you have for people who consider volunteering, especially when it comes to choosing where to offer their help?

I recommend volunteering for an organization that you have a passion to support…or where you can relate to the need for help! I chose Dolls for Daughters simply because I understand and have a passion for the definition of a “mother’s love” that drives Jessica and her organization. I can tell you I NEVER want to experience a loss such as hers, but I so understand what and why she might do what she does…I am a mommy of two boys myself!

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Volunteer Bryn Cranswick is a mere 11 years old. She helped with last year’s Toy Shop. Bryn’s spirit and desire to be involved reveals that volunteerism can begin at any age. And no matter what age someone is, Bryn shows us that with the right attitude and spirit, we can all make a difference!

Bryn answered the following questions on her own.

1. Why did you decide to volunteer with Dolls for Daughters?

My mum heard about it from her friend Jessica and we thought it would be fun to help kids pick out toys for Christmas. 

2. How long have you been a volunteer with Dolls for Daughters?

I’ve volunteered one time and I can’t wait to do more. 

3. What is your most memorable experience volunteering with Dolls for Daughters and which event was it at?

At my school, right before Christmas, my mum and I helped families and kids choose gifts for Christmas. I liked that there were lots of other kids from my school there and we all got to have the experience together. 

4. Have you participated in any fundraising event that Dolls for Daughters has held?

I haven’t yet but would like to some day. 

5. Have you shared your volunteer experience with your friends and family? If so, what was their reaction?

No, I haven’t.

6.    With so many organizations in need of volunteers, what suggestions or advice do you have for people who consider volunteering, especially when it comes to choosing where to offer their help?

Important things to think about are where you could help people the most. They are the people who need your help. Find something that fits into your life. But most importantly, you need something that interests you. Something that is fun. If it is boring to you then you won’t want to do it.

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Meet another of our awesome Dolls for Daughters volunteers, Dawn Rozecki. Dawn’s entire family has become a part of the Dolls for Daughters volunteer community. Dawn shared with us recently how she became one of our volunteer superstars. Of course, Dawn doesn’t call herself a superstar either—volunteers never do…

1. Why did you decide to volunteer with Dolls for Daughters?

Kenzi was born less than a month after my youngest son was born. I remember thinking how I couldn’t imagine having to go through what Jessica and Kyle had been through, and I didn’t know how I would be able to cope with the grief. I was and am inspired by how Jessica took all of that grief and turned it into such a positive force for our community. It has been my pleasure to volunteer with Dolls for Daughters. My husband and two sons have been able to volunteer at the Toy Shop for the past two years and it is certainly something we all look forward to each holiday season. It has given my two sons a different perspective about expectations during Christmas.

2.    How long have you been a volunteer with Dolls for Daughters?

I have been involved with Dolls for Daughters since its inception. I have helped to collect toys and have attended other events. For the past two years, I have volunteered at the Toy Shop.

3.    What is your most memorable experience volunteering with Dolls for Daughters and which event was it at?

The most memorable event for me was watching my 11- and 4-year-old sons volunteering at the Toy Shop in 2010. They were both surprised at the line outside and how many families truly could not afford to provide Christmas presents for children. My 11-year-old walked away from the event with a renewed appreciation for the gifts under our own tree and with a greater understanding of the struggles that families face each day to have the basics that we sometimes take for granted. 

4.    Have you participated in any fundraising event that Dolls for Daughters had held?

My family and I have attended the Bowl-a-thons.

5.    Have you shared your volunteer experience with your friends and family? If so, what was their reaction?

I have shared my experiences with my family, and they were also amazed at what one mom has done with her grief after losing a child. They were able to watch the CBS special and see how large the impact of Dolls for Daughters is for the families in Colorado.

6.    If you did share your experience, have any of your friends or family become Dolls for Daughters volunteers because of it?

My family and friends have donated toys to Dolls for Daughters. 

7.        With so many organizations in need of volunteers, what suggestions or advice do you have for people who consider volunteering, especially when it comes to choosing where to offer their help?

I would tell people to volunteer with organizations that touch their hearts. I can remember the moment that I learned of Kenzi’s birth and loss. I can’t imagine not working with an organization that Kenzi’s family created to honor her and all of the children in our community. 

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Meet one of our awesome Dolls for Daughters volunteers, Tonya Bradshaw. Tonya shared with us recently how she became one of our volunteer superstars. Of course, Tonya didn’t call herself a superstar—volunteers never do…

1. Why did you decide to volunteer with Dolls for Daughters?

I was introduced to Dolls for Daughters in 2009 through an email from a mutual friend of Jessica’s and mine. I thought the organization sounded great. Dolls for Daughters was something I could easily support by sharing information about it with others. I also collected dolls that my friends donated after they learned about the organization from me.

2. How long have you been a volunteer with Dolls for Daughters?

I started volunteering unofficially in 2009. After learning about the organization, I shared information with friends and asked them to donate dolls that year. I have been involved more and more since then.

3. What is your most memorable experience volunteering with Dolls for Daughters and which event was it at?

My most memorable experience was at the 2nd Annual Toy Shop this past year. My favorite moment was when a teenage boy picked out a baseball cap for himself but then a few minutes later came back to me and asked to exchange it so he could give his little brother an extra present. It was so sweet to see him wanting to give his younger brother something extra and giving up his own gift to make that happen.

4. Have you participated in any fundraising events that Dolls for Daughters has held?

I have participated in a few fundraising events. I have been to a Tea Party at Wystone’s World Teas where there was also jewelry being sold. I also volunteered at the auction this past year, the recent Pasquini’s fundraiser and the Give 5 event in honor of Kenzi’s 5th birthday. I am also planning to participate in the upcoming Bowl-a-Thon and possibly volunteer at the Golf Tournament.

5. Have you shared your volunteer experience with your friends and family? If so, what was their reaction?

Yes, I have shared my experiences with my family and friends. They are all supportive and many are also more interested in the organization. When I was a member of the Colorado Jaycees, I nominated Jessica, and she received the Outstanding Young Coloradoan in 2010. It was great to be able to share her work and the organization with the state members of the Jaycees. Then in 2011, I nominated her and she received one of the U,S. Jaycees’ national awards, TOYA – Ten Outstanding Young Americans. This led the organization to receive more recognition from community service-minded people across the U.S. plus the well-deserved recognition to Jessica for her work.

6. If you did share your experience, have any of your friends or family become Dolls for Daughters volunteers because of it?

Many of my friends have now volunteered for Dolls for Daughters. Many learned about the organization after Jessica received the Outstanding Young Coloradoan in 2010 and wanted to help. I think we had about 15 volunteers at the 1st Toy Shop in 2010. Since then, many of us have continued to volunteer individually.

7. With so many organizations in need of volunteers, what suggestions or advice do you have for people who consider volunteering, especially when it comes to choosing where to offer their help?

I think that finding the “right” place or group to volunteer with is a personal decision. The cause should be something that the person believes in or enjoys. I am now choosing to give my time to groups that I enjoy being with. I want to have fun and feel good about what I am doing. I also look at the other people/volunteers and see if I can work with and have fun with them. I think volunteering is a great way to do something for the community, to make yourself feel good by giving back and to also meet people who have common interests.

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  The Christmas Doll
to the little girl in the turquoise coat

“Is this your baby?” I ask the solemn dark-haired girl, taking the doll from her arms. She nods, not smiling, her eyes firmly fixed on her doll, a small, soft, baby doll, dressed in white flannel pajamas with pink satin trim, and matching cap.

The little girl, about four years old, wearing a turquoise double-breasted coat, leans against her mother, her chin just grazing the top of the card table where I’m wrapping presents. I’m volunteering this afternoon for a toy give away sponsored by Dolls for Daughters, a Denver non-profit started by Jessica Bachus in memory of her daughter Kenzi. Parents can choose two toys per child. Glancing out the window, I watch a line of parents and children more than a block long snaking through the parking lot.

I almost didn’t come today. I was tired, and had plenty of things I needed to get done at home. They won’t miss me, I’d said to myself. I’m sure there will be plenty of other volunteers. I wasn’t in the mood for Christmas.

But you’ve made a commitment, I reminded myself. You’ve got to honor it. After all, my parents raised me to be a good citizen, to do my share. My father had served in the army and my mother had been an active volunteer—for the local hospital, the PTA and the Girl Scouts.

I miss them, especially at Christmas. My father died four years ago and my mother many years before that. They seem even more distant since we’d had to sell our family home after my dad died. Their house, filled with their possessions, comforted me. Now, with most of the tangible evidence of their lives gone, they seem very far away, almost as if nothing of them is left.

And so I drove across town in heavy traffic and with some difficulty, located the dance studio where the event was being held. Once I’d arrived, my mood hadn’t improved. Pushing past the people waiting in line, I stepped into a large room. Watching parents and children walk slowly past a long row of tables piled with toys, I felt depressed and overwhelmed. So many children. So much need. A woman in a pink shirt embroidered with “Dolls for Daughters” waved at me, then called me over to help wrap presents.

“Which wrapping paper would you like?” I ask the girl, Continue reading The Christmas Doll - A Volunteer’s Story

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Volunteers Needed!

If you are looking for a great way to volunteer this season join Dolls For Daughters at our 1st Annual Toy Shop!! This event is a great way to get involved with an amazing organization and give back to the community. We will be distributing toys to children and families for Christmas who would not have had them otherwise. The event will take place on December 11, 2010 from 10am-5pm at Kim Robards Dance in Denver. We are still in need of volunteers to work 12pm-2pm, 2pm-5pm, or both. This will be a fun and rewarding event where you will have hands on interaction distributing toys to families or wrapping toys. Children under 18 years old are welcome to help out as long as they are Continue reading Volunteers Needed!

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