Volunteer Appreciation Month: Mark Aylward

Mark Aylward

Mark (right) with his 15-year-old son, Mark

More than 18,500 volunteers generously gave their time and talents to Coalition for the Homeless of Central Florida last year, proving to be the muscle power behind our mission. Throughout April, Volunteer Appreciation Month, we are showing our gratitude to these wonderful supporters by sharing a few of their stories.

This week, we’re pleased to introduce you to Mark Aylward, who donates his professional services and Saturday afternoons to make a difference in our clients’ lives.

Why do you support the Coalition?  I feel honored to be able to give back in small ways, and I can’t think of a better place to directly impact lives so quickly and profoundly.

What was your first impression?  That there were so many people that needed help and so many people willing to help.

How often and in what capacity do you volunteer?  I play flag football every Saturday for a few hours with my son and a bunch of kids and volunteers from the Coalition. I also conduct a class every other Thursday around the topic of re-employment, resume writing, and interviewing (my core profession) for the First Steps Substance Abuse Recovery Phase II men.

What has surprised you most about working with the Coalition?  The amount of good they do with the resources they have. Also how positively it has impacted my son.

What is your fondest memory of volunteering at the Coalition?  One Saturday, a young girl approached me on the football field and tapped me on the shoulder to show me a piece of paper. It turns out that it was her report card and she had received straight A’s. We hugged and I fought back tears just appreciating the fact that she would want to show me.

Tell us about some of the people you’ve met… The other volunteers are kind, caring, giving, and fun. The Coalition kids are just a joy to be around. They make me feel more appreciative and hopeful about things. And the First Steps guys are living, breathing examples of how close success and failure are and how anyone can do anything if they put their mind to it. Nothing is over until you quit trying.

How would someone describe you?  Honest, kind, and funny.

What do you do when you aren’t volunteering?  Work; spend time with my son; try to visit my girls, other family, and friends; exercise; and read. I’m hoping to do more traveling soon.

What might someone be surprised to know about you?  I like romantic comedies way more than I’d like to admit.