Kendra Cullimore exemplifies what it means to be a giver. She is a veteran and Hire Heroes USA alumna who continues to give back to fellow veterans. Kendra began volunteering in August 2015 to share her nonprofit management and social services expertise through career counseling, mock interviewing, and federal resume review assistance. So far, she has mentored over 10 clients and donated over 25 hours of her time. During her mentorship sessions, she gives her time, valuable feedback, strength, positivity, and hope! Today, we turn our spotlight to feature a remarkable woman and “shero” who is passionate about empowering her brothers and sisters-in-arms to succeed in the civilian workforce. Kendra shared her story with us:
“I served in the U.S. Army as a 42A, or Human Resources Specialist, where I was also my unit’s Combat Lifesaver, Family Readiness Coordinator, Women’s Post Basketball Player and Unarmed Combat Champion (both men’s and women’s). I worked with some of the most dedicated and selfless heroes I have ever met.
“I am passionate about helping veterans! I have dedicated nearly two decades to social work and social justice and am fast approaching my graduate degree with a Master’s degree in Social Work from one of the top-three nationally accredited schools, the University of Washington. I just completed my year-long internship at the American Lake VA Hospital, where I counseled veterans suffering from addiction and PTSD. I have networked in veteran communities for the past nine years, ever since I was an (unbelievably scared) transitioning veteran (I know, how could an unarmed combat champ be afraid?).
“One of the most influential people in my life was my Veteran Transition Specialist (VTS) at WorkSource. He took me under his wing helped me translate all of the skills I gained in the military to civilian terms, and then offered me a job working with him! I spent years learning how to help people find jobs, creating and navigating the dreaded federal resume and, utilizing my undergraduate education in psychology and sociology. I put people at ease and helped them find what their passions were one resume and interview at a time. I get to continue doing this as a Hire Heroes USA volunteer.
“Kristina Pressley, an amazing VTS, introduced me to volunteer opportunities with Hire Heroes USA. I knew Kristina through her business at Torch Fitness, where she routinely and playfully took pleasure in laughing at me trying to get back in shape. We became fast friends, even though she is an Air Force veteran. She told me about Hire Heroes USA’s vision, mission and what she does to help veterans, and she quickly became one of my heroes!
“I have had an array of opportunities to help as a volunteer from federal resume preparation and review, job coaching, sharing technical expertise, conducting mock interviews, to just an occasional pep-talk.
“The moment that has stuck out to me was a phone interview I did with a military spouse who was starting over after the loss of her child. Through tearful emotion, she explained that her only vocational experience was working with children, and she could no longer cope with working with children, as it was too painful for her. I remember how grateful she was to just have someone willing to listen. When she was able, we then formulated a step-by-step plan for her success.
“I have learned through volunteering with Hire Heroes USA that there is a skilled and dedicated community that understands the vast needs of veterans and their families searching for employment. This complex, energized, living network of VTS and volunteers stand together and help each other succeed. This is truly what serving our country means. With each veteran I have been fortunate enough to assist, I have seen that through employment comes empowerment and success. All of a sudden being “civilian” isn’t so scary anymore.”