We are pleased to introduce Erin L. as our May Volunteer of the Month!  Erin has volunteered with Cultivate since 2016. She started with YardBusters and then became one of the volunteers that helped pioneer our Cultivate Call Program, which started during the pandemic since it was an especially isolating time for seniors.  Erin calls the clients she's been paired with to check in and foster friendships with them.

Erin grew up in Portland, Oregon "before it was cool and before it had coffee."  Her childhood ambition from the time she was really little was to become either a scientist or a stewardess (because she had an aunt who was one and it sounded like such a glamorous career!). The first science experiment she conducted was proving that drinking soda doesn't rot your teeth.  Erin claims that she would like to think she's learned more about the scientific process since then, which she has successfully done!  Erin has a background in ecology and paleontology and received her Master's degree in Geology from the University of California and a Ph.D. in Geology from the University of Colorado and is a Science, Technology and Policy Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science working in the U.S. Department of State.  

One of Erin's first jobs out of college in the late 1990s was with a company that was pioneering the concept of assisted living and it was such an incredible experience for her to be part of that revolutionary shift. People were so happy that there was an alternative to nursing homes and one that prioritized independence and self-determination. Erin got to travel around the country, to meet with local governments to find ways to adapt existing regulations (which usually had been written for nursing homes) so that residents could have autonomy without jeopardizing safety. She says that was an incredible thing to be a part of and that she feels a little proud of how the idea of assisted living has taken off.

Erin says her proudest moments should relate to her kids, but she honestly doesn't feel like she should get credit for their greatness. She is very proud of completing her dissertation, because that was soul-sucking hard and it took forever for her to complete.  As for her greatest challenge, Erin says that it’s staying motivated once she's mentally given up on something (see dissertation, above). This has been especially hard for her with the pandemic as there are so many forces making you want to give up.  Erin is very passionate about equity, making our world a place where everyone is valued and can contribute equally.  She loves anything that gets her outside. One of her favorite things to do, which she admits is not common to most, is watching rugby. She played in college and for the Boulder Club Team and still loves watching a match and yelling at the screen.

A perfect day for Erin would be to get up early, hike, get a fresh pastry and coffee for breakfast and spend the rest of the day at the spa.  She really misses traveling. Erin had hoped that her current fellowship with the State Department would allow her to have international work opportunities but, because of the pandemic, she hasn't gotten to leave her house yet. So, getting out seeing other places and experiencing other cultures is pretty high on Erin's wish list. Erin tries not to think about how she is going to leave her legacy and just tries to finish each day with a smile and a bit of panache. She seeks inspiration by looking at the beautiful mountains outside. As a geologist, she knows how long they took to get there and all that they have seen since. They give her strength and remind her to get out and play. 

Erin really tries not to give other people advice and says we all have our own path and our own perspective and that’s something to celebrate. She thinks we help others best when we support their journey rather than compare it to our own.   

Erin likes volunteering to meet and show respect for others. It helps to get her out of her little daily track. Which, makes her the perfect candidate for our Call Program at Cultivate!  She says that she has learned a lot from Teri, one of the Cultivate clients she has been chatting with every week. Erin says that Teri has had such an interesting journey to get to where she is now and Erin has learned so much from her and loves hearing her stories and amazing perspectives. She admires Teri because she has been up against hurdles that Erin can’t even imagine, yet continues to move forward with grace. 

Cultivate admires you, Erin, for all that you have done for us over the years.  We appreciate all of your dedication to our clients and our programs.  We can't thank you enough for being so dependable, dedicated and sharing your story with us! And, for loving our clients as you do.


About Cam Low:

Cam Low, a Boulder Native, enjoys the outdoors, practicing yoga, listening to live music, and spending time with her friends and family.  As an avid Buffs fan, she is a devoted volunteer with the CU Boulder Alumni Chapter and Buffs4Life as well as an Ambassador for the Boulder Chamber. She joined the Cultivate family in March 2020 as a Business Development and Program Specialist. Cam is passionate about helping seniors and eager to introduce Cultivate clients to other people within the Cultivate Community, further encouraging the connection and relationship between clients, volunteers, donors, and staff. 

Our dedicated volunteers are crucial to the Cultivate family and living our mission of helping seniors flourish through active engagement with their community. Each month we will feature their stories in Volunteer of the Month. If you are interested or want to nominate someone else, please contact Cam Low at clow@cultivate.ngo