Education helps Kitsap County volunteer impact her community
When a previous boss told Audrey Wolf she should “go to college,” she listened. Wolf first received her associate’s degree at Olympic College in Bremerton, and then completed her bachelor’s degree at Brandman University in 2010. In the four years since graduating with a BA in Organizational Leadership, Wolf is having an impact on her community. “I first became interested in non-profit and volunteer work when I worked in a financial planning office,” says Wolf. “I could see the good that could be done.”
Studying Organizational Leadership was a natural fit for Wolf, who admits, people often come to her to help organize and lead volunteer efforts. “Learning about change management, communications, and conflict resolution gives me more tools in my toolkit,” says Wolf. She also graduated last June from the year-long Leadership Kitsap program. It brings together people in the community from a variety of fields, to produce colleagues who can identify opportunities and work together to get things done.
Right now, Wolf is involved with not one, but two initiatives that will impact the Kitsap County area. Wolf is working with Coffee Oasis, a non-profit faith-based group that steps in to guide at-risk youth and homeless teens. Coffee Oasis has programs in Poulsbo, Bremerton and Port Orchard, and helps teenagers with job training in its coffee shops, offers mentors, and even case managers to set goals and be a guiding hand for these kids. The group also has drop-in centers that act as safe havens for teens who sometimes find themselves on the streets.
Wolf is helping with Coffee Oasis’ efforts to add another center in Kingston. The group doesn’t yet have a site, and is looking for the right building so they can move forward with funding. “I work as a liaison between the executive director and the community,” says Wolf. “Sometimes people in the community might not see the need, but if you’re up at 6 a.m. and you see someone come from under a bridge with a sleeping bag, we know that person could use a hand.”
So far, outreach workers have connected with about 70 youth in Kingston to which Coffee Oasis could provide services. In reality, Wolf says, the numbers could be higher. And with Poulsbo’s Coffee Oasis location the nearest center to Kingston, it isn’t ideal. “It’s hard for kids to travel to Poulsbo if they don’t have transportation,” says Wolf. Already the Poulsbo center has a part-time caseworker already working with 19 teens. Fifteen is considered a full case load.
The second initiative that’s commanding Wolf’s attention is through Soroptimist International of Greater North Kitsap in Poulsbo. Wolf is part of the organization’s ‘Live Your Dream’ awards, a scholarship program for women who are the primary financial support for their families, while they’re enrolled in school to improve their education and job skills. “I’m setting up a workshop for applicants to help them fill out the paperwork, and give them the best shot at a $1,000 scholarship,” says Wolf. Winners here can go on to gain larger scholarships on regional and national levels.
“My education combined with Leadership Kitsap is strengthening my ability to have an impact, and be more effective as a leader,” says Wolf. “Plus, I’m able to call on a support network and alumni for help.” In fact, Wolf gets her Brandman University classmates together several times a year, just to catch up and keep in touch. She would absolutely recommend Brandman’s hybrid model of online courses combined with in-person weekly classes to other busy adults. And, once her children are finished with their college degrees, Wolf says she’ll consider an advanced degree. “I’d love to get my masters.”
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