Volunteer Meet and Greet: Heidi Munin, Plus One Community Assistance Volunteer

A native of San Antonio and longtime Austin resident, Heidi Munin has managed to maintain her busy professional life, motherhood and passion for travel and running, all while devoting much of her time volunteering at Saint Louise House. Heidi began volunteering in late 2012 after learning of our mission and feeling as if Saint Louise House was exactly where she wanted to be. She began her volunteer efforts as a resident support shopper and has since expanded her involvement. Heidi no provides meals and birthday cakes and works closely with program staff in our Plus One Utility Assistance program. When asked what keeps her coming back, Heidi says “I love the mission and vision of Saint Louise House. I feel that Saint Louise House is a game changing organization and the time I spend at Saint Louise makes a difference. ” Read more from our volunteer Q&A with Heidi below:

How did you learn about Saint Louise House and what prompted you to get involved?

My daughter attended St. Michael’s and did a community service project where she worked with a different organization each day for a week. I was looking for something new to do and went through the list of organizations. One of the organizations was Saint Louise House. I went to the website and read up on what they were doing. I immediately knew this is where I wanted to be.

In what ways are you involved as a volunteer with Saint Louise House?
I started out as a shopper. Now I volunteer for the Plus One program and hospitality.

What keeps you coming back to volunteer?
I love the mission and vision of Saint Louise House. The idea of providing women an environment in which they have an opportunity to move ahead and better their life situation for themselves and their children is so powerful! I was lucky to be born into a family where all my needs were met. I had supportive parents and wanted for nothing growing up. I had the opportunity to go to college and get a great job when I graduated. I have been blessed and know that not everyone has had the same opportunities. I feel the need to give back. The only way to break the cycle of homelessness is to change the situation and empower women to be self-sufficient. I feel that Saint Louise House is a game changing organization. I feel that the time I spend at Saint Louise makes a difference.

What do you enjoy most about your volunteer experience?
It really does feel good to give back. “We reap exactly what we sow (Ga 6:7-8), and we receive proportional to the same measure that we give”. “He which soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly; and he which soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully” (2Co 9:6).

It feels so nice to be remembered on your birthday or to have someone reach out and drop by a meal when you are sick. It really doesn’t take much time to do small things. This is also gives me an opportunity to step away from the pressures of work and get a little energy boost. I have such amazing friends who take great care of me. It’s nice to have the opportunity to do the same for the families at Saint Louise House.

The Plus One program is an amazing program. Some of the people coming in are facing some extremely high utility bills and fearful that their electricity will be turned off. It really is nice to take that burden off their shoulders so they can take a breath.

What have you learned or how have you been personally affected from your experience with Saint Louise House?
The Plus One program has been very eye opening. One, I didn’t realize the city had this type of program – which makes me hopeful. It’s also frustrating to see the burden these families face with such high utility rates and having to decide if they are going to purchase groceries and feed their children or keep the lights on. One woman had gone out and purchased boxes of candles in case her electricity was turned off. It has really helped me put my life in perspective and more appreciative of what I have.

Do you have an inspirational story you can briefly tell about your volunteer experience? Please share with us!
A woman, her husband and toddler came to St Austin’s for the Plus One program. She needed help paying her electric bill. She looked very pregnant and I asked when she was due – never the best question to ask. She told me she had given birth a couple days before and her son was in the ICU. We were able to cover 100% of her utility bill. With all she had on her plate it was nice to take away one worry so she was able to put all her energy into her family.

Do you have any advice for individuals considering volunteering with Saint Louise House?
I promise, you’ll get so much more out of volunteering than you give. I always feel that the time I spend is appreciated and has made someone’s life a little better. The staff and the community of Saint Louise House is nothing but positive. Volunteering at Saint Louise House is life changing.

Hobbies/spare time activities:
Since my daughter left for college I travel quite a bit. I just got back from Seattle and Vancouver. It was a nice break from the heat. I run with Rogue Running. They are my second family. And I get to Chicago whenever I can to see my daughter Hanna.