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Stephanie Coons

OCCUPATION: President of Greater Lewisville Cares, a community volunteer organization

PERSONAL STATS: Born and raised in Chicago, Coons graduated with an education degree from Indiana University and a graduate’s degree in gifted and talented education from DePauw University. The first-grade teacher, living back in her hometown of Chicago, married Kyle, a corporate pilot. The duo enjoyed eight years of urban living and decided to relocate to Flower Mound (to be closer to Kyle’s company, Net Jet). Enter Greater Lewisville Cares. Coons, seeking ways to become an active volunteer in the community, immediately joined the ranks of GLC volunteers. As a new stay-at-home mom, she even toted her newborn daughter Ella, now 2 and a half, to food pantries and community garden projects. She is now helping the organization facilitate a new promotion: With each day you volunteer, you receive a park pass from Walt Disney World (via the “Give a Day, Get a Day” program).

A GLIMPSE AT YOUR WORKDAY: “First and foremost, Ella is my priority. I work mostly from home, but I make a conscious effort to check e-mail only twice a day. But I am very active as a volunteer and as the president of GLC’s board of directors. This means that I help coordinate volunteer projects, promotions campaigns for GLC and everyday upkeep of our organization’s communications.”

MOST INFLUENTIAL ON YOUR CAREER: “My parents. I was raised in a family that really focused on giving back, particularly when we were older. For instance, at the start of a new school year, before we could bring home new clothes, we would have to clean our closets. Each article of clothing we donated we could replace with something new. My mom was very present in our lives and showed us why it’s important to give back—she would take us to food pantries in downtown Chicago. So, volunteering has always been a part of my life, and I hope that it will always be a part of Ella’s’.”

HOW YOU TEACH ELLA VOLUNTEERISM: “When she was little, Ella would be in the sling with me while I volunteered at the food pantry. She sees both of her parents giving our time; I hope this makes her a more compassionate person who incorporates volunteerism into her daily life.”

BIGGEST CHALLENGE GLC FACES: “The biggest challenge is that people believe volunteering takes so much of your time. There are so many ways to volunteer—it can be with your time, money, things … Volunteering is something you can do all year long, and with minimal effort. GLC tries to make it a flexible thing—we understand that sometimes you have time to give and sometimes you don’t. After you go through a 30-minute orientation, volunteers receive a monthly calendar of projects they can join. All you have to do is call the project leader and commit your time (there are no minimal time requirements). The nice thing is that GLC lets you get in the door at many different agencies, many of which you might not know about without GLC. For instance, I thought I was dedicated more to education projects, but I’ve worked extensively with local food sources and it’s opened my eyes to my passion for the environment.”

MOTHERHOOD’S BIGGEST CHALLENGE: “For me, it’s been with my husband’s travel schedule. He’s home for seven days and then gone for seven days, so I’m a part-time single mom. I have so much respect for anyone who’s on their own raising a child. My husband walks in the door at home and, even though I know he’s been working all week, I let him know that ‘Here’s your kid!’”

ADVICE FOR NEW MOMS: “Take the time to be engaged and present in whatever your baby is doing—even if you feel exhausted! The ‘baby’ stage goes by so quickly.”

CAUSES YOU PLAN ON MAKING A FAMILY AFFAIR: “My mom is a three-time breast cancer survivor, so we do the Komen For a Cure walk every year and I plan on continuing that with my daughter. We also log a lot of hours stocking the shelves at the food pantry. Recently I’ve joined a community-sponsored agriculture project in north Denton (Aunt Sue’s Barn), where we go to pick berries during the summer—I foresee us doing more for the environment as a family, as well. ”

STRATEGY TO STRIKING A WORK-LIFE BALANCE: “Lots of things happen during naptime! My daughter is always my priority, so I try to do the best I can to accept the fact that, on some days, not everything will get done—and that’s OK!”