Meet Michelle Welton, Independent Living Program Volunteer

Independent Living Program participants take a cooking class.

Michelle Welton has volunteered for the Impact NW Independent Living Program (ILP) for the last four years. ILP helps foster care youth ages 14-21 gain the skills they need to successfully transition out of foster care and into adulthood. Michelle Welton went out of town one October during the annual ILP Halloween celebration. She had always led the festivities before, so the other volunteers and staff were a little nervous about how the party would happen without her. But they were in good hands. Michelle had prepped everything before she left – she had all the Halloween decorations separated in labeled containers with detailed written instructions about where and how to hang them. The staff didn’t have to put an ounce of thought into it and according to ILP staff member Dana Spears-Talbot, “everything came out beautifully. Michelle is a master at what she does.”

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What is a little-known fact about the volunteer work you do?

“I’ve done a little bit of everything in my time from coordinating volunteers to organizing events, to handling donations and facilitating Life Skills classes. But the oddest task I’ve ever tackled is pruning. The office space the past couple of years for ILP was owned by a small church who could not always support the upkeep of the grounds around the house where the ILP offices are. I could often be found pruning to keep it looking nice and the spaces accessible.”

What do you want people to know about working with clients?

“Working with foster youth is not as scary as people think. Everyone just wants to be listened to and empowered. Meet them where they are at, be willing to laugh at yourself and make mistakes and you will be making a
difference without even knowing it—even sometimes from behind the scenes.”

What volunteer or other needs does ILP have?

“There are so many components of volunteer work that nothing is too small. The youth in the program need instruction and information about everything involved in adulthood, before they turn 21 and age out of
services. Anything a volunteer can show or tell them is useful and needed.”