Denise Lyons, Boston, currently serves Tri Delta as national housing volunteer coordinator (NHVC) where she works closely with a team of 10 housing coordinators who provide support to local house corporations on all housing-related issues. A longtime volunteer, Denise has been serving Tri Delta in different capacities since she graduated in 1992: “I have loved all the opportunities I’ve been given to develop my leadership skills and make friends all over the country (and beyond!),” she says. She shared the following about her volunteer experience in the Winter/Spring 2020 issue of The Trident.
What made you want to volunteer with Tri Delta Housing as the NHVC?
It may sound strange but I really love housing. For me, this is a culmination of a variety of volunteer roles that I have had, and building up a knowledge base makes me feel confident as a volunteer that I am providing good and helpful information. (I am also a librarian so you can see how this would make sense!) I have traveled to many regions and worked with a variety of chapters so I have a good understanding of the broad scope of house properties and issues. In my professional life, I also work with library buildings; there is a lot of similarity between these two kinds of facilities and their operations, so what I learn in my volunteer work crosses over to my professional work and vice versa. I feel that Tri Delta’s renewed commitment to housing with a new structure, Board, staff and organizational plan was something I wanted to be a part and felt I could be a strong contributor. I believe that we are committed to providing an excellent living experience for members as well as a positive volunteer experience for our local house corporations. Finally, I really enjoy the structure of being able to work with the excellent housing team at Executive Office as well as dedicated and enthusiastic housing volunteer coordinators. It’s been a great experience.
What has been your favorite experience as a volunteer?
I really enjoy the travel to see the college campuses and all our collegiate houses, lodges and chapter “homes.” I love getting the tours and letting the members and volunteers show off their facilities. They always talk so lovingly about the home away from home that these chapter facilities create for members, volunteers and staff
I have also always really enjoyed all the wonderful women (and men, too) that I have met over the years whether they are fellow volunteers, Tri Delta staff, or local contacts that are connected to the Fraternity. I’m truly excited to be able to room with my very good, longtime friends at every Convention. I always look forward to seeing the women at trainings or events who started volunteering when I did so long ago! There are so many special friends who, like me, have transitioned through a variety of volunteer jobs and who I’ve been able to visit with when I travel or keep in touch though social media. People always remark that I know so many people, but Tri Delta sisters are everywhere so naturally I want to take advantage of catching up with old friends and making new ones. It makes a big world, a smaller place.
What skills has your volunteer role helped you develop?
I’ve always felt that Tri Delta’s leadership and personal development opportunities are ones that can be applied no matter what your profession. In addition to those, I really enjoy the problem-solving aspect of my job. So much of my job as a librarian is finding information, sharing resources, and coming up with solutions. These are excellent skills to have as a Tri Delta volunteer as well where, as a team, we do a lot of problem solving, creative thinking and communication building. My work with housing, in particular, has a very strong cross over with my professional work because just as I work with local house corporations, I work with library boards; just as I work with Tri Delta chapter facilities, I also work with library facilities. There are a variety of ways that what I learn about insurance, crisis communications, emergency preparedness and board development serve me well as both the Deputy Director of a state agency as well as the National Housing Volunteer Coordinator. I also find that working with volunteers and as a volunteer is a great way to strengthen my skills as manager of many staff on a variety of levels.