Not long after he moved to Phoenix from California five years ago, Simon Franco was applying for a job selling mattresses when the person interviewing him did Simon a tremendous kindness – he didn’t hire him for the job.
The interviewer said that while Simon was qualified, he would probably get bored with the work pretty quickly and leave.
“He told me I needed to find my passion,” Simon recalled.
It’s an experience that Simon applies to his work as Cancer Support Community Arizona’s new Volunteer and Guest Experience Coordinator.
“As we are building the volunteer program, we are working to put folks in the right spots,” he said. “We are creating an opportunity to connect their passion and purpose with the mission of Cancer Support Community Arizona. People are sharing time and talent with us, and we need to respect that and make it a mutually beneficial relationship.”
Ultimately, Simon discovered his passion and purpose was with nonprofits and helping them develop their volunteer programs. Prior to coming to CSCAZ, the Michigan native directed volunteer efforts at several nonprofits, including Mothers Against Drunk Driving and the Ronald McDonald House.
Simon’s background fit in naturally with his ultimate career choice. He had personal experience with the Ronald McDonald House back in Michigan when he became quite ill as a child, and remembers his dad volunteering to be a clown there.
After his father passed away, his mother became a therapist and ultimately the director of a nonprofit dealing with homelessness, the Macomb County Rotating Emergency Shelter Team (MCREST). Simon’s older brother Tim also worked for the nonprofit and in 2009, Simon received the Presidential Award for Community Service presented on behalf of former President Obama for volunteering more than 1,400 hours at MCREST, making the organization even more of a family affair.
Simon’s interest was specifically in organizations that deal with health care (he has an undergraduate degree in health care administration and is pursuing a masters in public administration). Not long after a close friend passed away from cancer, Simon saw that CSCAZ was looking for a volunteer coordinator and thought it was serendipitous.
He is passionate about growing CSCAZ’s volunteer base. “Volunteers are the roots of this organization,’ he said, “and we can only continue growing with their help.”
In addition to a general understanding of the population CSCAZ works with, Simon said that he’s looking for people with empathy, flexibility, and a sense of humor or lightheartedness.
“We may be coming across people who are having the worst day of their lives,” he said. “We want people who can be a comfort and positive without being a Pollyanna.”
In return, CSCAZ strives to match volunteers to roles they can be comfortable in and feel good about, he said.
“I want their experience here to give them a sense of purpose and satisfaction,” he said. “I would hope that whatever they are doing – inputting information, talking to people on the phone, helping out at an event – they see that the work they are doing is moving the mission forward of helping anyone impacted by cancer.”
If you are interested in volunteering with CSCAZ, please contact Simon at firstname.lastname@example.org.