Kelsey Willis, 28, is an employee for Compass Group. Compass Group provides services in areas such as food, hospitality and support services. There, Kelsey works with the benefits department. Previously she worked at Habitat for Humanity in Knoxville, Tennessee. She moved to Charlotte in May 2015.

When Kelsey came to Charlotte, she was looking to meet new people and get involved in the community. While Googling volunteering, she came across Hands on Charlotte and decided to sign up for volunteer orientation. From the introductory presentation, Kelsey believed HOC to be very thorough. She liked the fact that she could try out different projects and then choose to return to the ones that appealed to her.kelsey-1-crop

When I interviewed Kelsey, I could tell that she is a natural leader because she is willing to lend a hand and is honest about her thoughts. She explained to me that the projects she leads benefit Friendship Gardens, a huge network of gardens in Charlotte. The Urban Farming at Garinger project helps to supply food for Friendship Trays, Charlotte’s meals on wheels program. About her commitment, Kelsey says “I used to do a lot of other projects, and I still go to others when I can, but I focus on this one now.”

When I asked Kelsey why this project fits her personality she said “I like to focus and complete things and be tangible when I do things.” With her willingness to work hard and wait on the beauty to appear, Kelsey has the right attitude for working in a garden. She says her projects are great for “anyone who wants to play in the dirt for a little bit, get out in the sun, and come back in a couple of weeks to see the sprout of what they planted.” I also learned that Kelsey likes to be outdoors and appreciates that the food grown in the gardens feeds people in need.

Kelsey knows when her projects will be held a month in advance so she is able to make sure they fit into her schedule. She feels that HOC is a great place to meet new people and get out into the city. She says that through volunteering you can break out of your comfort zone and meet people you wouldn’t normally meet. “When I volunteer I feel like I did something to help out. I feel a part of the community and connected to the city.”

kelsey-2-cropKelsey still doesn’t know too many people in Charlotte but she champions HOC to as many people as she can, hoping that they’ll volunteer. “My volunteer leader shirt is a very bright fluorescent orange and people ask me about it, it’s a great conversation starter,” said Kelsey. She desires for people to come out to her projects and enjoy themselves just like she does.