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When it comes to volunteering, it's all about finding the right fit. Longtime Coppell resident Vonita White found her fit in education. Her career as an educator not only brought her to Coppell in the early 1970s, it also sparked her involvement as an active volunteer for the City.
"The service philosophy I have was a good match for education," White said. "It always felt like where I was supposed to be."
White has been active in her church as well as the YMCA Board of Directors, the Texas Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development and the first Coppell Library board, but a passion for the Friends of the Coppell Nature Park (FCNP) emerged after retirement due to her many years of serving students.
As a member of the FCNP since the park was founded 15 years ago, White spends time facilitating classes and activities for students at the Biodiversity Education Center as well as keeping the history of the park alive as the organization's historian.
"My interest came from the way the park was designed through a collaborative effort with students," she said. "Students designed it, did the research on where it should be, and worked with the City to make it happen."
With her wealth of experience in volunteer partnerships and unique perspective on the history of Coppell, White was recently asked to take on a new challenge as a City of Coppell Allies in Community cohort member, and she jumped at the opportunity.
The program, which brings together citizens and city employees from all backgrounds to collaborate on creating an environment of inclusion and civic engagement in the community, is unlike anything White has been involved in before. The structured meetings and workshops provide a safe and respectful place to express opinions and discover common ground.
"Normally when I serve on something we already have a common goal," White said. "This approach is more about forming teams and building relationships so we can establish a common goal. It's been interesting and I've enjoyed it."
For one of the workshops, White's team shared a cultural meal in a member's home and discussed everything from the desire to prepare fresh, nutritious meals rather than processed food to the way holiday celebrations are often connected to faith. Allies has provided a frame of mind to highlight commonalities rather than differences.
"I encourage people that have an interest in this to apply to serve on the next cohort," she said. "It's a valuable life experience that will give you some real skills and make you think in a way that you wouldn't have before."
To learn more about Allies in Community, visit coppelltx.gov/allies and join the mailing list, or email firstname.lastname@example.org. More information about the Coppell Nature Park can be found at coppellnaturepark.org.