Julia Thorn: Volunteer, Board Member
How long have you been volunteering with WTAP?
I have been volunteering with WTAP since 2008. I was introduced to WTAP when I was Director of Marketing Communications at the Arizona Biltmore Resort & Spa. We were renovating a wing of the resort and were looking for a local organization to donate the used furniture and décor. Our only stipulation was they had to go to families in our local community and the organization had to be able to pick up the items and store them. I called Carolyn Manning and the rest is history.
Tell me about some of the people you’ve met while working with WTAP?
I have met so many wonderful refugee families. I feel so fortunate to have met them. A few that come to mind are two Burundian refugees, Venant and Alexis. They have the sweetest families and such sweet spirits. Venant and I represented WTAP last year when a dignitary came to town. Others that I have been moved by were a brother and 2 sisters from Iran. He had been working with our government and they had to flee. But before they did, one of his sisters who worked as a flight attendant was in an area that was bombed and got shrapnel in her face. She was going to have surgery to repair her wounds. The brother volunteered as an interpreter for us on home visits.
Why do you choose to donate your time to WTAP?
Mostly because I am awed by the refugees. They are resilient individuals who have survived so much and taught me about the strength of the human spirit. This charity is such a worthwhile organization and you can see the positive impact immediately. As a Christian I am called to help those less fortunate. I don’t have to go across the world on mission trips – I am doing good work right here in my own backyard.
Describe an experience you had while volunteering that you realize you were making a difference.
I was doing home visits and met a single lady with a son from Iraq. She was handicapped and had been excommunicated from her family because her husband left her. Even though we didn’t speak on another’s language I understood she needed a tea pot, blanket and some clothes. I immediately drove home and got my tea pot and a blanket, stop at store and bought her a few items and drove back to her house. She was so grateful. It was just a few things that changed her world and mine.
What do you do when you aren’t volunteering?
I have done most of the volunteer opportunities at one time or another. From home visits, to deliveries, donation drives to speaking engagements. I have chaired the Adopt a Family 3 years and coordinated several Cultural dinners over the years – Burundi, Iraq and Cuban.