“I just wanted to thank you guys for what you’ve done for me and my family,” the woman said as she donated clothes.
This is Catherine’s story - showing us the immeasurable effect volunteering has on our community. Volunteers provide a light in the darkness that people in our community experience across different aspects of their lives.
There was a crisp fall breeze the day that I decided to volunteer at the Fall Festival for Note in the Pocket. The air was lively, sprinkled with children’s laughter as they ran through the small pumpkin patch that had been laid out in the adjacent field. Dozens of tables circled the area, each one boasting a fun fall-themed family event. I immediately turned to my left to face Note in the Pocket’s table, which was already surrounded by volunteers. The other volunteers and I paid careful attention to our venue as we set it up, making sure that the flyers didn’t get lost with the wind. In the center of the table was a wardrobe’s worth of children’s clothes, a little reminder of what Note in the Pocket strived to provide for underprivileged children in the area. Next to the table was a large box with Note in the Pocket’s logo and the word ‘DONATIONS’ emblazoned on the front; our goal was to receive as many coat and jacket donations as possible to prepare for the upcoming winter.
I spent the day rotating through different errands for Note in the Pocket. Sifting my way through the packed crowd, I clutched a stack of flyers close to my chest. All of the families whom I spoke to were very kind, and they readily took the flyers from my outstretched hands. After an hour or so, my hands were empty, and as I looked into the crowd, I could see faint flashes of my flyers in people’s pockets and in children’s strollers. Satisfied, I returned to the venue.
My next job was to work at the table, asking all of the passerbys if they would be willing to donate a coat to our cause. Many came prepared, tossing coats into the box before I could even utter my quick speech. It didn’t take long for the donations box to fill up; we received coats in all sizes and colors, and some people even donated other clothes as well. As the festival came to its end, and the exuberant crowd dwindled into a smaller and smaller gathering, I thought that would be the end of the donations. That’s when I was approached by a young woman, clutching a large bag of clothes in her hand.
She asked me if this was the Note in the Pocket venue, and I nodded. As she was dropping the bag into the donation box, I was about to utter a thank-you when she began to speak. “I just wanted to thank you guys for what you’ve done for me and my family.” I was speechless, so the woman continued. She told me about how she had been in a rough place years before, and Note in the Pocket had supported her and her family through their struggles by helping to clothe her children. She told me that she wanted to pay it forward, so she was donating all of her children’s old clothes that no longer fit them. Giving is a circle, she said, and she wanted to carry on the good-hearted spirit. With that, she walked off, leading her kids towards the bouncy house. My feet felt glued to the ground. Sure, I had been volunteering for years, and I knew that my service was helping other people in my community. However, this was the first time I had seen personally how volunteering can have a life-changing impact on someone and their family. It was a fulfilling feeling, knowing that my hours spent volunteering were making someone’s life better.
To this day, I have not forgotten this woman’s journey. The smile on that woman’s face is what drives me to be a more active volunteer and member of the community. I hope that I can keep making others smile through my acts of service. I also hope that I can lead other volunteers to have this same experience because it changes your entire mindset about volunteering. That’s why I joined Triangle Cares — I want to keep the circle of giving alive.
Donating and volunteering not only has physical benefits for the people receiving help, but emotional benefits too. It allows them to feel appreciated by and included in the community.
About Note in the Pocket
In 2005, a kindergarten teacher noticed that some of her impoverished students did not have seasonal clothing. She and her mother started to provide these students with coats, leaving a note in each pocket to let them know that this is a gift and they are loved. This grew to the point where the teacher was able to help clothe the entire student body. In 2011, Dallas Bonavita met with the teacher’s mother and started to help with clothing drives and finding a space that was more accommodating for the large amounts of clothing they were receiving. In 2012, Note in the Pocket became an official ministry under the auspices of Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Church. They became a nonprofit in the following year. Note in the Pocket continues to make a difference in the lives of many students who can not afford suitable clothing.
Note in the Pocket experiences great leadership from their executive director, Dallas Bonavita. Throughout her lifetime, Dallas has dedicated her life to volunteering and helping to improve her community. Before Note in the Pocket, she was a disability specialist for the state of North Carolina, a relocation specialist, and co-creator and owner of Kids Gym, Inc. She then became an important figure in developing Note in the Pocket, and she is a founding member of their Board of Directors. She has done an exemplary job at providing for those in Wake County who need it the most.
Last year, Note in the Pocket was able to clothe over 5,000 individuals. This year, they hope to beat that number by another 1,000 individuals clothed. It is predicted that by the end of 2021, they will have clothed 35,000 individuals since 2013. Although their main focus is clothing impoverished school children, they also help clothe the student’s family members and younger siblings. Last year, they raised over $200,000, which was put towards clothing more students.
How Teenagers Can Be Involved
Note in the Pocket has a Teen Board of high school students in grades 9-12 who work to improve the lives of children in Wake County. Teen Board members come from a wide array of schools in the community, and together they work to hone and develop their leadership skills, community awareness, and passion for volunteering. The goal of the program is to become more active in local community service, and board members do this by hosting clothing drives, interacting with community groups, and creating fundraisers to raise money for Note in the Pocket. One of Triangle Cares’ co-founders, Catherine Pabalate, has served on the Teen Board for almost two years, and she has been really grateful for the opportunities that the board has granted her. She says that the board has allowed her to work and volunteer alongside many new people, helped her learn from mentors in the organization, and grow her love for giving back to the community.
Welcome everyone! We are so excited to announce the launching of the Triangle Cares website. We wanted to tell you a little bit about Triangle Cares and how it was founded. Triangle Cares was born through iCube, an entrepreneur organization at Cardinal Gibbons High School. Jim Baker, an entrepreneur, volunteer, and parent of 4 Gibbons alumni, hired Catherine Pabalate and Lily Linton in August 2020 to create a way to connect nonprofits and volunteers. After extensive research and multiple interviews with nonprofit organizations, Triangle Cares was born. The Triangle Cares team wanted to create an efficient way for volunteers to find a nonprofit that perfectly matches their schedule, skill set, and interests. Since the winter of 2020, Catherine and Lily have been designing and creating the logo and website for Triangle Cares.
In honor of the website’s launch, two of Triangle Cares’ founders, Lily Linton and Catherine Pabalate, decided to speak about their experiences with the organization.
Why did you choose to be a part of Triangle Cares? I have always been passionate about helping others, so when Mr. Baker approached me with the idea of helping volunteers and nonprofit organizations at the same time I jumped at the opportunity.
How have you grown since you started working on Triangle Cares? I have grown both personally and professionally since I started working on Triangle Cares. Personally, I have made more room in my life for volunteering, as I have been able to see the need the nonprofit organizations have especially during COVID-19. Professionally, I have developed in communication, marketing, website design, and logo design.
Do you see yourself doing similar work in the future? Yes, I see myself continuing with Triangle Cares and continuing to volunteer. Later in life I would like to build on my want for helping others by becoming a Child Psychiatrist or Child Psychologist. I would also like to dedicate myself and my resources to help children in poverty who can’t afford such care.
How have your past experiences helped shape Triangle Cares? My experiences volunteering in the past have allowed me to understand the need that the nonprofits have. This has allowed me to shape Triangle Cares to aid both the nonprofits and promote volunteering to fill that need. When I have volunteered in the past, I also noticed that there is a lack of youth volunteers, which is why Triangle Cares is focusing on bringing in more youth volunteers.
Why did you choose to be a part of Triangle Cares? I have always had an affinity for volunteering and working with others in my community, so I was thrilled to have the opportunity to create a way for people in the Triangle to find volunteer options. I was also glad to be given the opportunity to build relationships with other volunteers in the area and expand the horizons of my community.
How have you grown since you started working on Triangle Cares? Through Triangle Cares, I have learned a lot about professionalism and how to build and maintain strong relationships with different people and organizations. I have learned more about the inner functions of an organization and what it takes to develop and launch one. Furthermore, I have gained extensive experience in marketing and design from researching optimal marketing techniques, creating social media accounts, and constructing a website.
Do you see yourself doing similar work in the future? Yes, I do. Volunteering is a substantial part of my life, and I love being in such a nurturing and guiding community. Hopefully, in the future, I will be able to utilize my skills to continue the cycle of giving through the volunteer community so that others can have similar experiences to myself. I hope to find a job within marketing or public health, where I can develop these skills and put them to use.
How have your past experiences helped shape Triangle Cares? I have always had a strong connection with the volunteering community, and I think that has really helped me to shape Triangle Cares into what it is now. Of all of my experiences in community service, the one that stands out to me the most is when I was running a donations stand for Note in the Pocket at a festival, and a woman approached me with a bag of clothing. She had told me how the organization had helped change her life for providing for her and her family, and she wanted to give back by donating back some of her old clothes. This helped me to learn about how giving is a cycle, and I wanted to help others have the chance to take part in this cycle.
Jordan Hannan and Jordan Lappin