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Q & A with Skilled Volunteer Steve Marzolf

SOAR365 Project-Based Skilled Volunteer
Retired professional Steve Marzolf has been working with SOAR365 since late last year to create a comprehensive Business Continuity Plan that would resolve current gaps and address a variety of scenarios. In a recent interview, Steve shared his motivations to get involved with SOAR365:

Q: What attracted you to SOAR365? Why did you apply as a skilled volunteer?

I have been very fortunate in my life and I am at a place in my life that I want to focus on helping others find success in their lives, however they define that. SOAR365 works in our community to do that on a much grander scale through a myriad of programs and services. They meet people where they are and help them live and grow in ways that might not be available to them otherwise. When I saw the opportunity to work with such a committed and dedicated organization, I was honored to offer what I could to help. No organization can have expertise in all fields or the money to contract for that expertise especially when they need to focus on the critical needs of the community. Having a tool like Hands-On Greater Richmond to connect those organizations with needs to people that have the expertise and time to help shows the power of people coming together to build a better community.

Q: How does this opportunity align with your background/expertise/skills?

I was born in the public safety/emergency response world. My dad and both grandfathers were fire chiefs and served during several major disasters like Hurricane Agnes (1972). Working for the Commonwealth of Virginia, I was responsible for the state 9-1-1 program as well as emergency planning for my state agency. In 2009, with a bird flu outbreak threatening, I was on the team that helped develop some of the first continuity of operations (COOP) and disaster recovery plans. Fortunately, that threat was not realized to the extent feared, but when I saw that SOAR365 needed assistance with their COOP planning, it was right up my alley. With the COVID pandemic over the last few years (which hit the month after I retired), many organizations, like SOAR365, have already experienced having to improvise and modify work processes to the new normal of life. My role will be to document it all in a plan so that should anything happen in the future, the organization as a whole is ready to respond.

Q: What are you getting from your experience so far or what are you enjoying the most about working with this project-based opportunity?

I love to talk with people about things about which they are passionate. And clearly, the people of SOAR365 are extremely passionate about the people they serve and about what they do. That type of enthusiasm is contagious (in the good way, not the COVID way). You can’t help but get that positive energy all over you. Being able to help those people continue to deliver services no matter what Mother Nature throws at them is also very rewarding. It may be a small part to play, but everyone is important.

Q: Some additional background: are you a Richmond native (if not, where from), fun or quirky fact about yourself, anything else you would like to share

I am originally from central Pennsylvania, but spent most of my formative years in the Washington, DC suburbs until I moved to the Richmond area in 2000. I currently live in the city in the Southside and I love being able to ride my bike just about anywhere I want to go. I am not sure there is much about me that isn’t at least a little bit quicky, but as one fun claim to fame, I once sang “American Pie” with Jimmy Buffet at a bar in Virginia Beach. He was in town for a concert and came into the bar very late for a drink. One thing led to another and I was singing with Jimmy Buffet. It was definitely a fun evening.

Q: What you would tell someone who might be interested in skilled volunteering with SOAR365?

The simplest thing I would say is (stealing from Nike) “Just do it!” I regret waiting until “I had enough time” to volunteer with an organization like SOAR365. I also wondered if I had anything to offer. Bluntly, there is never going to be enough time and everyone has something they can offer. For me it was easy once I saw the skills-based need since it aligned so well with my life experience, but I did not need to wait. SOAR365 is doing amazing work in the community. It touches not only their direct clients, but also their families, friends and the community at large. They only need a little help from the community to make sure that they can continue to provide these critical services that impact the lives of so many others. It is the least we can do and what you get back is priceless, so just do it!

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