“I think people are the most important piece of the puzzle.”
“I would admit it's possible that I get more out of it than she does!” says NAP HR Generalist Kate Fitzgerald about her role as a ‘Big’ in the Big Brothers Big Sisters mentoring network. For the past year and a half, Kate has been spending two days each month with her ‘Little,’ an 11-year-old girl who, one would argue, benefits from her relationship with Kate as well.
“We have a lot of fun together. This past weekend was Earth Day, and we went to a little festival at a park and there were bouncy houses and bunny rabbits. I try to do some reading and academics, too. We’ll go to the library and pick out books. I have a 4-year-old son, Grayson, so she’ll read to him, and she’s able to learn how to serve as a role model herself; she has a lot of siblings,” Kate explains.
Devoting her time to the welfare of others is nothing new to Kate; the focus on children, however, is more recent.
Inspired by a high school volunteer opportunity working with dementia and Alzheimer's patients, Kate went on to receive her undergraduate and Master’s degree in social work. Following a decade-long career in the field specializing in geriatric care, she decided to take some time off after her son was born. When she reentered the workforce two years later, Kate realized that she didn’t want to do social work anymore. “It was too emotionally taxing and hard to leave it at the office. I recognized that I couldn’t devote myself in that way any longer,” she explains. “But I wanted to find a career where I could use those interpersonal skills. That’s how I landed in HR. But I still had this desire to give back to the larger community.”
Kate gets candid about the fact that she had always envisioned having more children herself, but—things don’t always work out the way we intend. “For a while I was stuck in this place of feeling sorry for myself, but at some point I looked at it from a different perspective and thought, if I love children, and feel that I have more love to give, there are plenty of kids on this planet that need it. And now I’m able to give my Little that additional love and support,” Kate adds.
“Investing in people, whether child or adult, or in your personal or your career life, that’s the most important thing in life,” she says. “What I value the most at NAP are the people here, and how I interact with them and how I can help them. And the most valuable thing I hope my Little gets from me is feeling loved, supported and encouraged.”
“At work or after, it’s all about relationships.”