Thursday, November 15 , 2018, 3:47 pm | Fair 76º


Partners in Education Volunteer Spotlight: Hillary Blackerby

Assemblyman Das Williams' senior field representative relishes role as mentor and role model

[Noozhawk’s note: One in a series on Santa Barbara Partners in Education volunteers. This article is sponsored by ABC-CLIO, a Partners in Education President’s Council member.]

“Volunteering is the ultimate exercise in democracy. You vote in elections once a year, but when you volunteer, you vote every day about the kind of community you want to live in.” — Marjorie Moore

Hillary Blackerby truly embodies what it means to be a public servant. The senior field representative for Assemblyman Das Williams, D-Santa Barbara, has been a volunteer with Santa Barbara Partners in Education for the past three years, working with youth in many different capacities.

      |  Partners in Education President’s Council Series |  Complete Series Index  |

Following Williams’ commitment to being present in the community, Blackerby first learned about volunteer opportunities in the schools when she attended a Partners in Education Annual Membership Breakfast as her boss’ representative.

“As someone who has little spare time due to work and other commitments, the volunteer opportunities with Partners in Education were so simple and fun that I couldn’t say no!,” she said. “I do what I can and the Partners in Education staff always makes the volunteers feel appreciated.”

Over the years, Blackerby has been particularly committed to the mock job interviews that prepare high school students for professional endeavors. For her, it’s a big reward for such a small time commitment.

“I get the opportunity to talk to so many great young people, and, hopefully, I play a small role in preparing them for the real world,” she said.

Blackerby enjoys being a mentor and role model, albeit briefly, for the aspiring youth with whom she is able to spend time.

“I love seeing how full of potential these students are and how many options lie ahead for them,” she said. “So many of the youth in our community get labeled as troublemakers, or failures, or people who will never amount to much, which couldn’t be farther from the truth. When you give them permission and encouragement to have confidence about their abilities, that can serve as a motivating factor for years to come.”

Going above and beyond in the spring of 2010, Blackerby took on an intern through Partners in Education’s paid Job Training and Student Internship program, which provides high school students six weeks of job readiness classes and eight weeks of paid work experience. Despite the substantial commitment — and some might even consider it a leap of faith (putting a high school student to work in an office) — Blackerby felt confident about her intern, Elizabeth Buenaventura, from the get-go.

“Elizabeth was an outstanding asset to our office,” she said. “I knew that due to Partners in Education’s rigorous application process for the internship, we would get the best of the best. We were able to give Elizabeth the level of work that is normally reserved for our university-level interns and full-time staff, and she excelled at her tasks.

“It was a rewarding experience and we hope to participate in the program again one day.”

A product of public schools herself, Blackerby feels it is her duty to give back to the system that gave her everything she has.

“Every professional in our community benefits from our schools, whether they attended them or hired someone who did,” she said. “Volunteering is an easy way to pay it forward to the next generation.

“Partners in Education is such a crucial component in a society where our education professionals are so overloaded with responsibilities that they often need outside assistance to help students reach their full potential,” explained Blackerby. “Volunteering is a small but impactful way to give back and support the system.

“When we step up and volunteer in our community, we own a little piece of responsibility for how things turn out. You can’t complain if you don’t do anything to make it better!”

ABC-CLIO is a member of the Partners in Education President’s Council, a group of local businesses, organizations and individuals who support Partners in Education with contributions of at least $2,500. Any company or organization has the opportunity to participate in Partners in Education, but the President’s Council is limited to no more than 30.

» Click here for more information on Santa Barbara Partners in Education.

» Click here for more information on how to become a President’s Council member or contact Michelle Magnusson, development and membership director, at 805.964.4710 x4417 or .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

» Click here for a related article from Partners in Education board president Lynda Nahra.

» Connect with Partners in Education on Facebook.

      |  Partners in Education President’s Council Series |  Complete Series Index  |

— David Lee is an AmeriCorps volunteer who has been working as a Santa Barbara Partners in Education volunteer coordinator. Both AmeriCorps and Partners in Education are programs of the Santa Barbara County Education Office.

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