When Rachel Kring first moved to Hinesburg in 2010 she was amazed to find a children’s play group at the town hall, right in the middle of the office space.
“What a great community,” was her first thought. Her children were young at the time, so Kring got involved and in 2014 she was tapped to lead the Friends and Families Playgroup, which is part of the Hinesburg Community Resource Center.
Last year, the resource center coordinator Laura Hoopes resigned to return to teaching full-time and the board looked to Kring to take over the position. She accepted.
“There are a lot of pieces to juggle,” Kring said “but I work with amazing volunteers.”
Previously, Kring worked at the American Red Cross in Burlington overseeing volunteer and outreach in eight counties in northern Vermont. A German major in college, she decided after a year of AmeriCorps service in Burlington that nonprofit work would be a rewarding career.
Kring took time off when her kids were born but stayed active in the field doing freelance grant- writing, assisting with annual reports and graphic design for other nonprofits. “This is one of the most shoestring budgets I’ve ever worked with,” she said “but they do the most. My job is to make sure that everything runs smoothly and all the volunteers have the tools they need.”
Among the many pieces of the Hinesburg Community Resource Center are the food shelf, the thrift shop and Hinesburg Rides, all of which are staffed entirely by volunteers. The thrift shop is open five days a week and although the food shelf is only open two days a week, there is significant additional work collecting donations and stocking the shelves. Most of Kring’s work is coordination, but she is also handles the emergency assistance calls. “That’s my hands-on,” she said. “Otherwise, I’m just helping people be successful in other programs.”
The resource center gets some annual funds from the towns of Hinesburg and St. George. It partners with the Vermont Foodbank and recently got grants for a glass-front cooler and new shelving for produce. They also receive some smaller private grants and are sustained by individual checks from residents. Last year they had enough to start a vacation meal plan, providing bags of food for families in need during school vacations.
Kring and her family moved to Hinesburg because they liked the small-town feel of the community and she said she is happy to be giving back. Her children are 8 and 10 but she still likes to fill in at the Family and Friends Playgroup when needed. She loves the continuity the playgroup brings, allowing families to take part in activities from the birth of their children to the start of school.
Today, the resource center is undertaking some strategic planning which is taking up a lot of Kring’s time.
“Some people would rather have a job they can leave at the end of the day,” she said “but I love working in a small community and feeling that what I do makes an impact. This doesn’t feel like work to me. I’m with some of the most wonderful people – board members and volunteers – many of whom have been with the organization for long time. People feel they are making a difference and they are.”