Meets pressing community needs by mobilizing caring New Yorkers in volunteer service.

Claire Kuhn | Team Leader Spotlight

CLAIRE KUHN

Team Leader, New York Cares

I met Claire in March and she inspired me to do the Team Leader training (which I just finished last night). Claire is a very special young woman who devotes most of her free time to volunteering. Please reach and interview this special young woman so she can inspire more of us!–Marian Robinson, New Team Leader

Just over a year ago, this month’s Team Leader Spotlight embarked on a quest to carry on the legacy of someone special. In the process, she transformed many more lives than just her own.

Meet Claire Kuhn, a Team Leader who leads projects serving every kind of New Yorker (as diverse as it gets!) on programs like Morning Yoga at PS 20M, Monthly Social with Gigi's Playhouse, Recover Food with Rescuing Leftover Cuisine in the Village, Walk Dogs with BARC, and Urban Adventures with Jacob Riis Family Settlement – to name just a few. 

All around, Claire demonstrates so well what it means to be a Team Leader: Engaged, passionate, and dedicated to ensuring volunteers feel prepared, valued, and supported, week after week.

We can't begin to tell Claire's story without leading with the inspiration that got her started in the first place. Her grandfather.

"He retired from Ford Motor Company at age 55, not anticipating a long-life expectancy. When he retried he dedicated his life to community service, spending many years as an elementary reading tutor and hospice volunteer. When he passed away in February of 2016, I felt like the world lost a major asset which compelled me to serve as a Team Leader. My grandpa, Al left very big shoes to fill and I feel myself working towards filling them every time I volunteer through New York Cares."

Claire has made it a point to not only ensure service stays in the family but has clearly carried on the ability to inspire as well. We heard from Marian Robinson, one of Claire’s volunteers, about how she has been moved by the leadership example set by Claire.

“I met Claire in March and she inspired me to do the Team Leader training (which I just finished last night). Claire is a very special young woman who devotes most of her free time to volunteering (she works full time). This week she's receiving the Presidential Award from New York Cares.  Claire is smart, engaging, enthusiastic, and open to all suggestions to learn and improve her excellent programs."

For Jane Rainone, fellow Team Leader, Claire’s ability to foster relationships and run quality programs is what makes her stand out. 

"I have volunteered with her at a project called Monthly Social with Gigi's Playhouse place which deals with young people who have Down Syndrome. This project is once a month a Claire is always so prepared. Not only is she prepared to keep these young people busy for two hours but it could be even longer. She has also volunteered with me on my project at Terrence Cardinal Cooke and has built a warm relationship with many of the residents by being the caring and giving person that she is.

In just two short years, Claire has over 130 projects under her belt and doesn't seem to be stopping anytime soon. She’ll soon be leading Swim and Splash with KEEN, a program that empowers children and teens with developmental disabilities through completing pool activities. We'd say Claire’s got the right idea for how she’s planning on spending her summer months! 

And while we could go and on about the influence Claire has made since she decided to join New York Cares, there's no denying that the Team Leader shoe size seems to be a perfect fit.

Thank you, Claire, for all you do to inspire others through your service!

  • Volunteer since: 2015
  • Team Leader since: 2016
  • Hours Spent Volunteering: 282
  • Describe in one word what being a Team Leader means to you: Love. Being able to spread love every week throughout this city means the world to me. From making seniors smile to teaching kids yoga, every chance to share love makes my week.
What are you most passionate about?

I am most passionate about utilizing my gifts to inspire others. I firmly believe that a team is only as strong as its weakest link and that we should all aim to be stronger together. It is our duty as New Yorkers to inspire every member of our city's team to be their own best citizen every day. I think it's a waste of talent to not share our own gifts with others and I love encouraging and inspiring my neighbors and friends to be their best. It has been so incredibly rewarding to share my talents with my community and receive so many invaluable things in return.

What inspires you to continue your work as a Team Leader?
In addition to my grandfather, the other reason I volunteer is privilege. I did not realize just how many blessings I had until I moved to this city. So many things that I have taken for granted such as involved parents and access to a quality education are truly a gift. I want to make sure everyone feels at least the same privilege I felt growing up because it was truly a blessing.
Share a favorite memory from a project.
One of my best memories was actually a few weeks ago. I was having a terrible day where I felt I was losing to my depression and a New York Cares client randomly chose to share his own struggles with me. I was having a rough time and sincerely struggling with my own personal issues. But seeing how much he needed my empathy made me rise up against my own struggles to talk him though his. This client truly inspired me though being able to help him with issues we were both suffering from. That experience made me realize the true power of volunteering.
Tell us one thing that you never leave the house without before team leading.

A sharpie! You always need one for writing on name tags, labeling cups, creating signs, etc. It has come in handy so many times. I also have my "Team Leader" backpack that has a picture of a pug on it and is filled with necessities like Band-Aids and name tags. 

What is your favorite thing to do in New York?

I actually love hiding out in in the library or in a park with a giant book and just enjoying our city spaces. I'm also a major fan of brunch.

Anything else you'd like to add?

I am just so thankful to have New York Cares be a part of my life. I love serving and befriending amazing volunteers, clients, and community partners every week!

Interested in nominating a great leader like Claire to be featured in a future Team Leader Spotlight? Submit your nomination here.