Allyson Leland has made a career out of volunteering.
Since the age of 12, Leland has contributed her time and efforts to organizations and non-profit agencies in and outside the state. Now Lawrence is benefiting from her experiences.
About two months ago, the 32-year-old Topeka native put her skills to work for Lawrence Memorial Hospital as its first paid director of volunteer services to work with the hospital auxiliary. Despite her misleading title, Leland says, "I don't direct them. I work with the staff and the auxiliary members and troubleshoot where necessary. I act as a liaison and try to make the auxiliary members' jobs easier."
Leland said she enjoys getting to know the 250 auxiliary members.
"It's been terrific," she said. "It's been really fun. The auxiliary here has been going on for 35 years so there's a strong group of volunteers."
VOLUNTEERING comes naturally to Leland. Her mother, Arleen Vickers, was director of volunteers at St. Francis Hospital in Topeka at one time.
"I got into volunteering as a profession, and not just as a volunteer, after hearing her experiences," Leland said. "I was raised volunteering. That's what my family always did."
Leland and her husband, Bob Leland, have a 10-month-old daughter named Arden, who undoubtedly will get involved in volunteerism someday, her mother said. "I think she'll have to. It has to be passed down from mother to daughter."
As a youngster in Topeka, Leland volunteered with the humane society and assisted with swimming lessons for the Red Cross.
"I was real shy," she said. "It really was a way for me to gain confidence and really excel in something."
SHE CONTINUED to volunteer through high school. "I only went to school half day during my senior year, so I volunteered during the afternoons," she said.
And college was no different. "There's always weekends," she said. "You can always find some time to volunteer."
Leland studied recreation administration at Kansas University and graduated in 1982. She has served as area director for the American Heart Assn. and volunteer coordinator for Topeka Parks and Recreation. When her husband was transferred to southern California, she worked for United Way in San Diego as director of volunteers.
The Lelands moved back to Kansas in June 1989 and chose to live in Lawrence.
"WE THINK it's an ideal place to live," Leland said. "Jobs in Lawrence aren't easy to come by and I consider myself very fortunate to find something right in my field."
Of the many aspects of her new position, Leland said she particularly looks forward to the continual interaction with members of the auxiliary.
"Generally, volunteers have this need to help people," she said. "It's real fulfilling to come into contact with those kinds of people. It's been interesting and fascinating to see how much they contribute and how hard they work. I want to make sure they stay enthusiastic about their jobs. Working in a hospital, they don't always see the happy things and they might get discouraged."
Leland also anticipates setting a good example for her successors. "I have the challenge of it being a first time position," she said. "I'll be able to break new ground."