This profile was published as part of #GivingTuesday's #WomenWhoGive series, which celebrates women who give back in their communities.
Susan Lovett is the Founder + Director, Hands to Heart Center - Yoga for the People. Read the full interview below to learn what inspires Susan to give.
Q1: How do you give back? (Please include the name(s) of any organizations you support.)
As a volunteer, I founded and lead Hands to Heart Center, Boston's only nonprofit yoga service organization. Hands to Heart Center shares the healing practice of yoga with people affected by addiction, poverty and trauma. Through HTHC, I teach a weekly free trauma-sensitive yoga class at CityPOP in Jamaica Plain. I'm also a volunteer with the Boston Public Library and Pine Street Inn as well as a member of the Governing Board of the Frederick Pilot Middle School. I was a founding Board Member of Girls Rock Campaign Boston, too!
Q2: What inspired you to start giving?
As a licensed social worker who's served youth and families living in poverty for over 25 years, I have a heightened awareness of the need in Boston's low-income, under-resourced communities. Both of my parents were public school teachers so I'm sure that also gave me early insight into the importance of meaningful work.
Q3: What does giving mean to you? Why do you continue to give your time, talents, money, or more to your community?
Intentional, planned giving feels to me like an effective way to leverage my own privilege as well as a way to learn about the lives of so many different kinds of people. I continue to give because it's an enriching experience and I can't imagine my life without it. I love the feeling of being engaged in a meaningful cause and knowing that my contributions can make a difference.
Q4: What would you tell others who are looking to start giving back? Share a piece of advice will help them get started.
Start with a a population or an issue or a location that you're passionate about and then research what's already being done in that area. You might find an organization that needs volunteers or help with fundraising. You might find that the type of organization doesn't exist and one needs to be developed. That's basically what I did with Hands to Heart Center. As a social worker, yoga teacher and community activist, I was receiving a large number of requests for yoga classes from nonprofit organizations and high-poverty schools in the low-income communities where I work but I could't possibly meet all of the requests myself. Hands to Heart Center recruits, trains and connects Community Yoga Teachers to volunteer with our Community Partners, providing yoga classes for the clients, residents and students that are accessible, inclusive and inspiring. Conducting online research and talking to people who have expertise in the topics you're interested in are my first recommendations.
Q5: Please share a favorite moment or story from when you volunteered or donated to an organization.
Every week, I teach a free public yoga class for Hands to Heart Center and am just so thrilled to get to know the students who show up. I have a group of regulars who are brand new to yoga and they're so appreciative and enthusiastic. We've created a little community of people with different ages, ethnicities, races and socioeconomic status sharing moments of peace and warmth. Coming together each week feels like an act of hope that I'm truly grateful and honored to experience.