Supporter Spotlight: Laurel Bruntz
Every organization has go-to volunteers they know they can count on, time and time again. We are proud to honor one of our go-to volunteers, Laurel Bruntz, in this edition of our Supporter Spotlight.
Laurel has been volunteering with the YWRC since April of 2014 when she joined our Young Empowerment Partnership (YEP) group. She has been a steady volunteer throughout the last four years, including serving as YEP secretary, multiple event set up and tear downs, helping in childcare, working the Wine Pull raffle table at several events, providing meals for our Hit the Ground Running participants and facilitating art projects with our young moms’ children. In addition to volunteering, Laurel has also shown support through a sponsorship in honor of her mom.
It’s clear to us that she is passionate about our organization and mission, but we were curious to find out why:
“I love that the YWRC focuses on young women from all walks of life, and has intersectional feminism as its foundation. I am continually impressed with the staff’s commitment keeping the young women’s needs at the center of programming/decision-making. I also love that I get to hang out with adorable noodles from time to time.
I really love the empowerment programming, especially the after-school groups. It is so cool to know that the YWRC values the experiences of young women and wants them to feel more connected with each other. I really like that the YWRC uses resiliency as a guiding principle for its programming and that the facilitators find creative ways (like the Beyoncé dance party!) to thread resiliency skills into the groups.”
After several years of involvement and a variety of volunteer activities, Laurel had difficulty choosing her favorite memory.
“Honestly, I’ve had so many great experiences that it’s hard to narrow down! One that comes to mind is nerding-out with a young woman about gymnastics during a carpool after a Hit the Ground Running pasta dinner. She takes classes at Chow’s – I felt like I was meeting a celebrity!”
In addition to genuinely enjoying working with participants, Laurel’s volunteering also helps her feel connected to our community.
“Despite growing up in Des Moines, it is learning about community organizations like the YWRC, and how unique and vital its role is in the lives of girls and young women, that makes me feel proud of my community. Also, without my own children, the YWRC is one of the only ways I interact with teenagers, and it is super fun to learn the new slang that they are using (even though it makes me feel a million years old).”
While interacting with our participants has taught Laurel a thing or two (like those new slang words!), it’s also led her to think about the advice she could give.
“I would say that surrounding yourself with the right people can take you far – people who bring out the best in you, who are smarter than you, who help you back up if you fall. Choosing to populate your circle with people who fit that bill, and being willing to excise people who don’t, is tough to do but can make a big difference. Also, no matter what, you will laugh about how you styled your hair when you were in junior high, so just go nuts and do what you want. It always grows out again.”
Laurel’s role models throughout her childhood were sources for some of this wisdom.
“My biggest role model, unsurprisingly for an elementary school girl in the 90s, was Hillary Clinton. I read It Takes A Village obsessively and would read any news article that referenced her. I also loved learning about historical figures like Harriet Tubman and Eleanor Roosevelt.”
When Laurel is not volunteering with the YWRC, she can be found taking in film, browsing shop windows or attending a festival.
“I love the Des Moines Art Center’s annual Oscar-nominated short film series – it is legitimately my favorite part of living in Des Moines. I also love the Fleur Cinema, walking around the East Village, when presidential candidates stop by, and summer festivals like Art Fest and Pride.”
Three random facts you may not know about Laurel:
- My favorite book is To Kill a Mockingbird and I read it every summer.
- I have never kept a houseplant alive for longer than a few months.
- I will eat (or drink) anything with passionfruit in it.
We are thankful for the dedication, positivity and thoughtfulness Laurel gives each time she volunteers. We know we can always count on her, and for that we are grateful. THANK YOU, Laurel!