After almost two decades of living out a passion for volunteering daily, Allison is part of a network that now constantly comes full circle. “For me, volunteering is about contributing to my community and supporting causes I believe in,” she says. “I am most passionate about supporting our public schools and public education because I believe that strong schools are the foundation of strong communities and that every child deserves a good education.”
Alison’s Chapel Hill volunteer roots run deep, beginning in 1995 when her son started kindergarten at Frank Porter Graham Elementary. There, she organized the grocery certificate program, the Read-A-Thon and volunteered in the classroom. At Scroggs Elementary, she helped set up the new school’s PTA and served as president, a member of the Parent Advisory Council, a classroom parent, classroom volunteer and reading tutor. Allison’s involvement continued as her son moved to Culbreth Middle and Chapel Hill High and her daughter started school.
She broadened to the district when she joined the Chapel Hill-Carrboro Public School Foundation board in 2001 and served as president from 2008-10. For the past seven years, the PSF has partnered with the East Chapel Hill Rotary Club to sponsor a Teacher Supply Store, which gives away free school supplies to teachers. “So far, we’ve provided free school supplies to every teacher in the district twice,” says Allison, who co- chairs the project. “The supply store is a real morale booster, a tangible demonstration that our teachers are valued.” This year’s store provided supplies valued at $28,000.
Apart from the public schools, Allison has co-chaired the annual rummage sale at Chapel of the Cross, which in one day raises more than $30,000 for local nonprofits. Currently, she chairs the church’s outreach and social justice commission, “basically coordinating the efforts of different volunteer committees to ensure that our efforts are on task with our mission.”
She uses a similar skill set as volunteer coordinator at SECU Family House, a 20-to-25- hour-a-week job that allows her to recruit and connect volunteers with opportunities to support guests at the hospital hospitality house. “I am inspired every day by the volunteers I work with at Family House,” Allison, who’s held the position since 2011, says. “Their commitment and dedication to our mission is energizing and inspiring. The amazing part about all of these projects is that many of the East Chapel Hill Rotarians who support the Teacher Supply Store are also Family House volunteers.”
Following a career in advertising, Allison, a Long Island native, and her husband, Ford, moved to his home state of North Carolina in 1995. They settled on Chapel Hill as the ideal place to raise their children – Alexander, 25, a UNC senior, and Sophie, 16, an East Chapel Hill High junior. An avid tennis player, Allison unabashedly admits, “I’ve been known to recruit volunteers for Family House while on the tennis court or in the grocery store.”