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Meet Our Volunteers: Sydne Kalet

It’s not an exaggeration to say that our community wouldn’t exist without our volunteers. They are critical in moving our mission forward. Get to know our volunteers and their incredible work here at Cara.

Who teaches that brilliant workshop about planning for success?

Sydne Kalet is a great coach for every participant at our downtown campus. She teaches the “Planning for Success” workshop at Cara and provides guidance for mastering life, time, and productivity. Director of Student & Alumni Affairs Jesse Teverbaugh says, “One of our many mantras here at Cara is “Motivate Me, That’s My Friend!” When I think of Sydne Kalet, that’s the first thing that comes to mind. I asked her to teach and share her knowledge with our participants 8 years ago, and she has been coming back ever since. Sydne is not only one of our most dedicated volunteers; she is also my FRIEND!”

What’s your background?

I majored in theatre in college and when I graduated, I took myself to New York City to become a musical comedy star.  Instead, I ended becoming a fabulous waitress!  So, I decided to get myself a ‘real’ job and wound up as a secretary for the National Hockey League in New York.  Then I moved to Michigan and got involved in sales for Sprint.  I didn’t like sales, so after doing some research, I transitioned into a job as a Training Consultant at FranklinCovey where I learned the concepts I teach today at Cara.

Why did you choose to volunteer with Cara?

One of my clients at FranklinCovey was MB Financial where Jeff Husserl was my Human Resources contact. Jeff also volunteered with Cara, and he thought the principles we taught at FranklinCovey were in alignment with Cara’s mission and experience.  He suggested that Jesse Teverbaugh come to one of our public work sessions. After the session, I met with Jesse to ask him what he liked/didn’t like about the seminar.  Based upon his feedback, I then put together the curriculum I’m currently teaching – and I’ve been volunteering since 2011!

How do you volunteer at Cara?

I am a facilitator for the 3-hour workshop that I designed based upon the concepts I’d been teaching for FranklinCovey.  It’s called “Planning for Success” and it includes time management, life management and productivity skills.  I deliver it during week five of Cara’s Classic curriculum.

What difference has Cara made in your life?

Such an easy question!  Becoming part of Cara and its community has changed my life for the better in so many ways!  First, as I teach my workshop, I’m reminded constantly of the things that I should be doing to ensure my own success, thereby helping me live what I teach on a daily basis.  Also, when I am with the Cara participants, I’m aware that my life can change ‘on a dime’, and the one thing that I can control is my response to those changes.  When I stand up in front of people who have experienced multiple challenges, I realize how fortunate I am – and I thank the good Lord for my good fortune.  The bottom line is that doing my work with Cara is a gentle reminder to be thankful and experience gratitude.

What’s the best experience you’ve had as a Cara volunteer?

Honestly, I think my best experience was being able to watch Jesse receive the Distinguished Alumni award in 2016.  We’ve gotten so close in all these years, and I was like a proud mama as he stood up to receive it because he epitomizes the results of what Cara provides.  He’s a living testament to Tom Owens’ vision.

Why do you think it’s important to give back to the community?

I want to ensure that I also epitomize Tom Owens’ vision.  Giving back is critical – and there is no greater reward than seeing people learn from what I’ve learned – inspired to go out and do their own thing from a more informed position.  Giving back not only makes me feel good, but it also enables others to feel good – the best of all possible worlds.

Have you ever attended or spoken at Motivations?

I’ve never spoken at Motivations, but I think I’ve attended about five times.  How can one not have a great experience?  It’s obviously motivating, and Motivations reinforces the fact that positivity is necessary to achieving success in life every single day.  Nothing is more powerful than that!

How has volunteering at Cara changed the way you understand the challenges we face in our city such as poverty and homelessness?

Every time I stand in front of the Cara community, I’m reminded of the challenges we face as a society and in our city.  Never having experienced homelessness or extreme poverty myself, it’s difficult to put myself in others’ shoes, but volunteering at Cara has helped me to see this pervasive problem up close and personal, which has made me more understanding and empathetic.

One of our favorite Motivations questions: At this point in your life, what motivates you?

Without a doubt, it’s knowing that I can overcome difficult challenges and that I am capable of picking myself up and coming back better than ever.  That particular knowledge is powerful.  No matter what I face in life, I can achieve anything.  And that is a good thing!

At Cara, we help participants break the cycle of poverty by providing them with the training and skills they need to get and keep meaningful work. Join us in our movement to bring back hope, jobs, and opportunity by donating or becoming a volunteer today.