My First Time Volunteering: Connor Kraus

At Mr. Bob’s Under the Bridge, we are incredibly lucky to have passionate volunteers who dedicate their time and energy to helping our organization thrive each week. Our volunteer base is made up of compassionate community members, some of which volunteer each and every week while others are brand new to the organization! Whether it’s a Thursday night sorting event or a Saturday morning outreach, each volunteer brings their own experiences and kindness to our organization and helps us to spread love and generosity within our community.

This week, we are highlighting one longtime volunteer, Connor Kraus, who started volunteering with us a little over three years ago. Throughout the last three years, Connor has dedicated countless hours to serving our friends, first as a Youth Board Member and now as a Board Member, and has been a constant source of positivity and humor in our organization. Today, Connor is a freshman at Marquette University and when he is not busy at school, still finds time to spend volunteering on Saturday mornings! Read on to learn more about Connor’s first time volunteering with us:

How did you first hear of Mr. Bob’s?

When I was a sophomore at Marquette High, I was given my first service hour requirement. My freshman year requirement had been nullified due to Covid, so it was my first time looking for volunteer opportunities. My mom and I would drive past the Mr. Bob’s warehouse every day on the way home from school, and she encouraged me to look into the organization. The deadline for my service requirement was coming up fast, so I reluctantly signed up for a Thursday night sorting. I had never really volunteered before, and I did not want to start anytime soon. I selfishly thought that volunteering was a waste of time.

Before volunteering, what was your first impression of Mr. Bob’s Under the Bridge?

I felt slightly overwhelmed initially. I walked into a warehouse that was filled to capacity with large shelves, bags of donations, and other volunteers. It seemed like everyone knew what they were doing besides me, and that can be an intimidating feeling. Cheri Hesse immediately made me feel comfortable, though, and explained the flow of sorting nights. I’ve always admired her ability to make new volunteers feel welcome while also juggling her own long list of tasks.

After volunteering, did your initial impression of Mr. Bob’s Under the Bridge change?

I very quickly realized that Mr. Bob’s is not run by a random group of volunteers. Mr. Bob’s is run by a close family of volunteers who all work together to provide love and compassion for our community. It took only one or two sorting nights for me to realize that I was becoming a part of something special. We live in a world that seems determined to rip itself apart, and the Mr. Bob’s family tries their best to put some of it back together again.

What drew you to Mr. Bob’s Under the Bridge? What about your first experience made you want to come back?

I was blown away by how quickly I found my place at Mr. Bob’s. I continued to go to sortings, and each time I felt more comfortable and prepared. I began remembering where certain donations went, and I relied on Cheri to tell me where things went less and less. I always left sorting nights with a unique feeling of happiness. It was unlike any feeling that I had felt before, and I realized that I wanted to continue to strive for the wholeness I felt after volunteering.

How have your experiences with Mr. Bob’s impacted your life?

My time at Mr. Bob’s changed who I am as a person for the better. I began to really care more about the people around me, and I realized how blessed I am. Mr. Bob’s helped me mature into a loving and caring person, which brought me closer to my parents. Interacting with the homeless also taught me how to find my own happiness through the happiness of others, which was a new concept for me. My dedication to Mr. Bob’s made me a desirable candidate for the Burke Scholars Program at Marquette University. I was blessed to receive this service-based full tuition scholarship, and I couldn’t have done it without Mr. Bob’s.

What advice would you give to someone who is considering volunteering with Mr. Bob’s for the first time?

I would tell them to go outside of their comfort zone and sign up to go to a sorting or a Saturday outreach. If it’s really not for you, you can always find something else to do. The chances are you’ll find your place at Mr. Bob’s, though. You won’t know until you go, so push yourself to open that new door of opportunities. It is extremely likely that volunteering at Mr. Bob’s will change your perspective on so many aspects of your life, and it’s truly a unique, eye-opening experience. I can type as much as I want about it, but experiencing it in person is so much more impactful. 

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