This Mother’s Day, a mother and daughter are reflecting with gratitude on the opportunity to volunteer together. Both Kathleen and Heather Stoll have been volunteering for many years at United Way of Greater Cleveland. If you know Kathleen Stoll, this would not be a surprise. She has been a strong role model for community involvement over the past 60 years and has inevitably passed on the importance of volunteering to her daughter.
“Watching a mother who dedicated her time to serve community organizations addressing unmet needs, I saw firsthand how rewarding it is to be of service to the community,” Heather said. “My mother taught me that one person can make a valuable contribution and can make a difference in Cleveland. I always knew I wanted to follow her career path and dedication to the Cleveland community.”
Kathleen is a licensed independent social worker. In her nearly 60 years of experience, she has worked in direct service to patients in the local state hospitals, spent ten years with the first Community Mental Health Board, and worked at University Hospitals for ten years. At UH, Kathleen worked in the planning office and provided extensive staff support for the development of a Master Facilities Plan. This experience led her to start her own consulting company. She is married to Myron Stoll and is the mother of three children — Vincent, Sarah and Heather — and has six grandchildren.
Her daughter, Heather, serves as vice president for external affairs for the Sisters of Charity Health System (SCHS). SCHS includes health and human service ministries in Cleveland and Canton, Ohio and South Carolina. In her role, she manages the implementation of communications and branding strategies to promote the organization’s mission as well as its active public policy and government affairs agenda. In addition, Heather provides oversight to Joseph’s Home, a transitional facility for homeless men who are recuperating from illness, and to Building Healthy Communities of Cleveland. She and her husband Tibor are raising a daughter, Lily.
Both women are volunteers for United Way of Greater Cleveland, serving on the Health Committee. They support United Way for its local work.
“United Way was founded by local philanthropists to enable all residents to participate in solving difficult problems facing vulnerable populations, and making a difference in the community,” Kathleen said. “United Way is now an important source of charitable contributions to local social institutions. United Way raises the funds, determines the investments and evaluates the results. This is an important role.”
“My mother and I were asked to volunteer at different times, by different UW staff, and for different reasons,” Heather said. “My mother was invited because of her extensive background in mental health services and her active involvement on the boards of many community services throughout the community. I was invited immediately following my graduation from CWRU’s Weatherhead School of Management and for my broader knowledge of health and human services. At the beginning, we were on separate investment committees.”
“Now, we are both on the same investment committee,” Kathleen said. “Working together enables us to continue to contribute to our community, building on each other’s strengths but also the strengths of our fellow committee members. Doing this with each other adds an extra dimension as we share so many common interests.”
Heather added, “My mother likes working with me because my ‘youthful perspective and professional skills are a good complement and supplement to retired professionals like herself.’ But I find working with my mother is part of an ongoing quest for education and learning from someone who has seen best practices work, who has seen many programs fail for a variety of reasons, and to know that you must have the tenacity to work through the positives and negatives of a program to make an impact. Volunteering is an opportunity for ongoing education.”
With Mothers Day approaching, Heather is reflecting on the impact her mom set through volunteering.
“The greatest gift afforded to me by volunteering with my mom, is to know my mom in a different light,” she said. “Growing up, you see your mom as the one who guides you through your own development, teaching you how to be a values-based person, how to capture all that you can from your educational experiences, and how to be the best person you can be. But I believe by volunteering with my mom, I get to know her as not just my mom, but as a competent professional in the health and human services sector. I get to hear her comments on various programs, how she views these programs and what pertinent questions she asks about the program goals and program outcomes. It places my mom and her beautiful strengths in a different light. I’m truly honored to have this opportunity to learn from her.”