April is National Volunteer Month!
We would like to commemorate this month by offering our gratitude to the nearly 600 incredible volunteers who contribute their inestimable time and expertise to COA’s mission. Our volunteers carry out integral components of the accreditation process. They meet with our organizations at the culmination of months of rigorous work during their onsite review. Some serve as commissioners who are responsible for making the final accreditation decision, and others as panelists who contribute greatly to the development of our standards.
As reputable leaders of our accredited organizations, volunteers are individuals with deep ties to COA, whose loyalty is steered by their professional ethics and their commitment to nurturing fellow human services providers. Their noble efforts are an inspiration to COA staff and serve as a reminder of the important impact of our work.
We would like to introduce you to one of these outstanding individuals, meet Dr. Sharon Hudson, a Volunteer Reviewer, and COA’s Volunteer of the Quarter.
Dr. Sharon Hudson’s illustrious career began over 30 years ago at West Virginia University, where in 1983 she received a Master of Social Work. This important milestone would later inspire her to also obtain a PhD in Counseling Psychology from the University of Toledo in 1997. Sharon went on to work with a variety of COA accredited family service agencies across Ohio and Michigan. In her esteemed roles at these agencies she worked in the following areas: mental health, foster care, adoption, domestic violence, residential treatment for adults and juveniles, and community based services for adults, families, and children in need.
Sharon retired after 16 years serving as the Executive Director at Family Counseling & Children's Services of Lenawee County. Currently, she splits her time between teaching master’s degree level counseling students and working with autistic children. Her allegiance to COA has paralleled her impressive career having participated in 100+ accreditation reviews over the last 15 years.
Recently, COA Senior Volunteer Services Coordinator Phil Vazquez sat down with Sharon to talk about her career in human services, her life outside of work and her role as a COA Volunteer Reviewer. This is what she had to say:
Describe yourself in three words.
Determined, flexible, and… did I mention determined?
If you could have one superpower what would it be?
I would be able to turn air into food so there would be no hunger in the world.
What one book, article, or film has impacted your work and/or life the most?
Children of a Lesser God.
What is your guiltiest pleasure?
What led you to a career in human services?
I searched for a way to help empower people and that led me to human services.
What motivated you to become a Volunteer with COA?
My commitment to COA was part of my ongoing education and training with family service agencies.
Has your service as a COA Volunteer intersected with your other professional roles or experiences?
My role as the Executive Director of a COA accredited agency did intersect with my role as a COA Volunteer. I was able to successfully lead my own agency through the accreditation process multiple times during my tenure.
What would you say are some of your strongest beliefs about the value of accreditation?
It provides a safe and secure foundation for all services, both direct and indirect. I believe the process of self-reflection improves the services themselves.
Tell us about a memorable experience during a Site Visit? This could be personal or professional.
I got to spend some time in a residential setting for deaf children that was full of joy and laughter. I have met children who now have ‘forever families’ through domestic and International adoption and met with parents who believe they are the lucky ones to have these wonderful children in their lives. I also met a Gold Star Father who lost his son in military combat. The combination of pride and sadness was amazingly overwhelming.
What is the biggest personal benefit you’ve received as a COA Volunteer?
I would say being able to give back to my profession and sharing my knowledge and experience.
Please note: this interview first appeared in the COA Volunteer Newsletter