“I never feel like I don’t want to go to work,” says Kait Dawson, Communications and Development Coordinator for the Boys & Girls Clubs of Annapolis & Anne Arundel County. She is a multi-talented manager who sees her employment as not only a way to pay bills, but a way to contribute to the community and others who may have the same needs she once had. She says, “I feel I have a servant’s heart.”
Ms. Dawson, a Florida native, has spent many years finding ways to help people because she knows what it is like to live paycheck-to-paycheck and watch a single father put in overtime. At six-years-old, her mother passed away and she grew up with an overworked dad, moving quite frequently as her father looked for steady work. “Growing up in poverty… we utilized many programs like the ones I see here. [My dad and I] went to the local food pantry and I went to places reminiscent of the Boys and Girls Club.” When, at sixteen, her father also passed, she already had a sense that serving others less fortunate was bound to happen.
Relocating to the Annapolis area and, ultimately, graduating from Broadneck High School, Dawson then made her way to the University of the South in Tennessee to double major in Art History and Religion. When a job as an event planner in D.C. opened, she took the opportunity to start honing her skills managing events, sometimes for up to 500 people. Yet, while being successful in the corporate world is a great first step, there was something she needed to get out of her system. It is commonly called “The Travel Bug.”
“I had a friend and he was traveling all over the world and… I was sort of jealous,” recalls Dawson. Soon thereafter, she found herself on a nine-month trip through Central and South America volunteering with, oddly enough, an event planning company in Costa Rica. “I had no plan… but words can’t explain how amazing it was” she says. She found herself volunteering in hostels, cooking for a family whose father was often away, and even building a chicken coop. Upon return to Anne Arundel County, she was ready for another challenge. Enter Lighthouse.
As the Volunteer Programs Manager for Lighthouse Shelter in Annapolis, Ms. Dawson helped expand the 1000 volunteer team to 3500. Scheduling alone would be enough to confound most people, but she also took charge of in-kind donations. This would include everything from food to toiletries to sleeping bags to thermal blankets. Of note was her creation of Carol’s Community Closet which allows Lighthouse clients to find clothes for any occasion; be it a job interview for an office or a supermarket. “They can get everything they need,” she says as a smile takes over her face. It is this kind of dedication she brings to her new gig.
At the Boys & Girls Club of Annapolis, she has three main areas of focus; communications, event planning and development. But her eyes light up the most when talking about events that will help the club with exposure and fundraising. As of this writing, she is gearing up for the annual golf tournament, now in its 26th year, at the South River Golf Club. Beyond that, it is the Youth of the Year event. After that, who knows? But, she will be ready for any challenge because, as she says, “I love coming here every day. This is where I need to be.”