Now and then, we like to catch up with a fellow Firespringer to find out how they support our Power of 3 Program.
What is the Power of 3 Program, you ask? It’s one of the ways we, as a company, give back to the community. Each month, Firespring donates 1% of our profits, 2% of our products and 3% of our people to support local nonprofit organizations. That means each team member volunteers approximately one day per month for a nonprofit of their choice.
This month, we sat down with our favorite marketing coordinator/Halloween fanatic, martial arts instructor, entrepreneur, world traveler and mom, Nicole Swanson, to see what scratches her volunteering itch.
On any given day, you’ll find Nicole managing projects, orchestrating campaign kickoffs or maybe jetting off at closing time to teach kiddos and adults to kick butt at Swanson’s Martial Arts—the dojo she and her husband, Jason, founded in 1995. (Nicole is a certified 6th Dan in Taekwondo, 4th Dan in Combat Hapkido and 3rd Dan in Philippine Combatives, while Jason is a 7th, 5th and 4th Dan, respectively.)
Yet somehow, she still finds the time to pursue a passion for volunteering.
We sat down with the do-it-all extraordinaire herself shortly after her return from a two-week vacation to Korea and the Philippines to learn directly from martial arts masters. Seated among the family photos and Nightmare Before Christmas figurines adorning her office space, we picked Nicole’s brain about why she chose People’s City Mission as her most frequent volunteer organization. (She and Jason also teach after-school clubs, fundraise, host tournaments and more in their free time.)
Oh—and since this interview was shortly before Halloween, we also got to hear about her Taylor Swift costume.
Let’s hear it from Nicole!
(Edited and condensed for brevity)
Hi, Nicole. Can you tell us a little about your volunteering?
I volunteer for the People’s City Mission. That usually means I’m preparing food and serving lunch at the shelter or helping to sort, organize and process donations at the Help Center.
How did you come to be involved with PCM?
Food insecurity has always been something I care about. And since I used to work in a restaurant, serving lunch at the Mission seemed like a way to make an impact while reliving a bit of the past and using those skills. Later, as I started looking for more opportunities to serve with the Mission, I discovered they often need volunteers at the Help Center, so I started there too.
What do you find most rewarding about volunteering for PCM?
I grew up in a small town where I wasn’t exposed to homelessness. Later, as a teenager, I visited New York for the first time and was taken aback. It’s hard to see people without a place to live and not knowing where their next meal will come from. Those are basic human needs. Working at PCM, it’s an incredibly rewarding feeling when you see someone get a nutritious meal to eat or when you hear a warm thank you from someone you served.
The Help Center is a blast because of the other volunteers. Everyone works hard, but we all like to have fun too. It’s a great environment. I’ve worked with some of the same people for years, and those friendships mean a lot to me.
What parts are challenging?
It can be tough seeing the same people there regularly—knowing they are trying to get out of the shelter and have a place of their own but are finding it difficult for a variety of reasons. At the same time, it’s empowering to know that you can make an immediate impact. You can make someone’s life a little bit better or even give them more hope.
Do you have any favorite memories from volunteering?
My favorite memory is probably seeing a little boy’s eyes light up when he was given a piece of his favorite cake.
What would you tell others who might be interested in volunteering at PCM?
People’s City Mission can always use more volunteers. Plus, they make it easy, and you don’t have to make a long-term commitment. Just try it. You can give just a few hours or choose to help every week. It’s totally up to you. They have a great online scheduler at pcmlincoln.org, making it easy to sign up. It also outlines exactly where help is needed.
Thank you, Nicole, and keep up the great work!
Visit our socials to see Nicole in action!
Interested in learning more about Firespring and the Power of 3 program? How about working for a company that supports your drive to do good? Then visit us at firespring.com. And stay tuned for the next Firespringer volunteer feature!