5 Questions with Pamela Richardson of Volunteers of America Oklahoma

Pamela Richardson has more than 15 years of experience in nonprofit management and is currently president of Volunteers of America in Tulsa. She has also served as the executive director at Resonance Center for Women and Bridges Foundation and has worked in the education and finance fields. Richardson is being honored Friday with the Outstanding Fundraising Professional award by the Association of Fundraising Professionals Eastern Oklahoma as part of the chapter's National Philanthropy Day.

1. What is the mission of Volunteers of America?

Volunteers of America Oklahoma's mission is to respond to Oklahomans in need and to create opportunities for people to experience the joy of serving others.

Volunteers of America Oklahoma is helping Oklahoma's most vulnerable citizens. We serve 2,300 individuals monthly in three areas: individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities, the homeless and the aging. Throughout all of our services, our programs focus upon residential support, affordable housing, employment and financial management for those we serve.

In Muskogee, we operate the Retired Senior Volunteer Program which continues to build capacity for that community.

2. What was your journey getting involved with the organization?

My personal mission in life is to be a tireless advocate for vulnerable individuals in our community. At Volunteers of America Oklahoma I get to live out that mission daily. Encouraging clients with intellectual and developmental disabilities; helping individuals with mental illness find suitable housing and reconnect with family; seeing previously homeless individuals flourish with good money management; and observing homeless veterans as they become employed and regain their personal worth and dignity.

Our 350 statewide staff members ensure that each individual receives person-centered care regardless of the challenges encountered. It is my absolute privilege to support the employees who solidly deliver on our mission to our clients every day.

3. What misconceptions do people have about Volunteers of America clients?

In spite of the challenges or issues that our clients may have encountered in life, each person displays a desire for dignity, respect and independence. Our programs support the individual right where they are in life, and we assist each person in moving forward toward their goals.

We seek to teach, train, coach, support and encourage each person at all times, mindful of the worth of every person we meet.

4. National Philanthropy Day is in November — what advice do you have for Tulsans looking for a nonprofit organization to get involved with?

In nonprofit organizations, resources, skills and true thought leaders are important. If you are interested in volunteering, assess your skill set, find a nonprofit whose mission you can support with incredible passion and be ready to work.

In Tulsa, there are numerous opportunities to serve. Your dedication and commitment will be a tremendous asset to any local nonprofit, including Volunteers of America Oklahoma!

5. What's your favorite autumn tradition?

By far, the beginning of the "party season" is what fall signals to me! At Volunteers of America Oklahoma our staff will host over 23 client parties from Halloween to Thanksgiving to Christmas.

It's a fun time of year and our employees work to ensure that whatever client circumstances may be at the moment that hopefully we help each client enjoy the holidays.