by Sonya Farrell, BCA Communications Coordinator
Informal survey: how many volunteer hours did you log last week? Last month? Last year? Last 31 years? For Karen Catella, the answer would be way too many to count. The long-time Brambleton resident and recent Bev Barker Award recipient has dedicated thousands of hours of her time to various causes. Let’s see what she had to say about her experiences and ways for others to get involved.
Can you give our readers some background to the Bev Barker Award?
Beverly Barker was a member of the Loudoun Chamber of Commerce, and she was active in Sterling Women. She also chaired the Home-Based Business Council for years, the Small business Council, and the Business Women of Loudoun Committee, where she received the first annual “Chairman’s Award” in 2014. Bev worked as a copywriter and produced ads at one of the largest marketing companies in the world (on Madison Avenue in NY). She started her business, “Insights Marketing”, and with her entrepreneurial skills, she freely offered help to others. She was a role model and leader. She passed away in November 2015 after a courageous battle with cancer. The Chairman’s Award has now been renamed in her honor. I am thrilled to be passed the torch!
What causes are near and dear to your heart, and how did you first become involved in volunteering?
Looking back, I realize that I have volunteered my time for 31 years. It started when we first moved out of state when our kids were very young. A friend told me about the Junior Women’s Club and how they help local charities and have social functions. I worked full-time, but I knew that I could find some volunteer work that would fit my schedule. I joined the group, and over the years it has lead to other volunteer eff orts like Meals on Wheels and Junior Women’s Club of Loudoun. I eventually helped charter the Ashburn Area Women’s Club (AAWC) from 2009-2015. In 2012, I started my organizing business, Closet Tag LLC, which has led to other volunteer efforts. As a member of the Loudoun Chamber of Commerce, I have helped local charities such as Loudoun Abused Women’s Shelter, Mobile Hope, Women Giving Back, Loudoun First Responders Foundation, etc. I also donated my time to organize a family’s home at Fort Belvoir as part of the Wounded Warrior program, and I found that very rewarding.
A local story dear to my heart is that of a local Brambletonian who, while en route to moving in to her new house, was told the grim news that she had to immediately be admitted to the hospital for cancer treatment. She had a two year-old at the time, had just moved to a new area, and now was told she had cancer. I heard of her story via a Brambleton Facebook page. Most of her house was un-packed by others within the Brambleton community. When she returned home after her first treatment, we got in touch, and I organized her house while my husband and another friend put up closet shelving for her.
How do you motivate others to become involved?
I think the main reason why people don’t volunteer is that they are just too busy. I think it is important to be realistic with goals when first starting out. Find something that works with your schedule so that your personal life doesn’t suffer. Get your kids or friends involved. Make it enjoyable. Not everyone has to be a committee chair or leader; sometimes it’s better to start by being a follower. That’s also a good way to find out if a certain organization is a good fit and the schedule works for you.
What is your favorite thing about Brambleton?
I love that Brambleton is a close-knit community and has the small town feeling about it. The Brambleton staff is approachable and always ready to help a cause. I know that Brambleton had a dedicated staff working around the clock during the Blizzard of 2016. While other neighborhoods shared on their FB pages about how they were still buried, and the local news carried the same story for many parts of the DMV, we were pretty fortunate to have most of our main roads accessible in Brambleton.
I think the resident-administered B_ pages on Facebook have helped to create this camaraderie. With these pages (B Informed, B Resourceful, B Alert, B Business) you can get in-formation about local events, safety and security concerns, and charities/causes to get involved in.
And that’s how you get it done. Cheers to you, Karen!
Humans of Brambleton is our blog feature that focuses on one of the many interesting personalities who calls Brambleton home. If you’re interested in being a future Human of Brambleton, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.