I try to be a happy person, and I’m becoming more and more aware of the fact that to be truly happy, you have to look beyond yourself. (This seems particularly true when you consider recent events.) So I decided to pose the question “what role should things like “volunteerism, charity and giving back” play in our lives?
For this conversation I invited active volunteers Debby Wan and Susannah Bailin, and New Haven Register reporter and community activist Shahid Abdul Karim, along with two charitably-minded businesspeople – Paudi Barry and Ben Berkowitz, who’s the founder of New Haven’s own SeeClickFix. We met at the amazing Shake Shack New Haven, and I’d like to thank Anna for hosting us!
Shahid Abdul-Karim is a staff reporter at the New Haven Register. He’ll be part of a team of reporters covering the city of New Haven, focusing on schools, housing issues and neighborhoods. Shahid has written for the Muslim Journal International since 1998 and recently served on its board of directors. He has also worked as a national account executive at Verizon Wireless.
He is a graduate of Springfield College and has been involved in volunteer activities in Hamden, including helping establish a local food pantry with the Connecticut Food Bank.
Debby Wan is a Connecticut native and has lived in the New Haven area for the past 4 years. She is a mechanical engineer who used to work at Ford Motor Company in Michigan but moved back to the area to be closer to her family. She is currently the Vice President of the Friends of the New Haven Animal Shelter, an all-volunteer group who works with the staff at the Robin I. Kroogman New Haven Animal Shelter.
Pádraig (Paudi) Barry been involved with the same charity (now the SeriousFun Children’s Network) for 19 years traveling the world to work with children and families living with life-threatening illnesses and rare blood diseases. He “…moved from Ireland almost 13 years ago to continue to work with Paul Newman’s charity. I’m passionate about these opportunities. We’re blessed in this country and there’s an obligation to give back in my opinion and I am fortunate to be able to do so”.
Susannah Bailin is currently a serial volunteer in New Haven, a past/present/future Board Member of Tower One, Women’s Health Research at Yale, Read To Grow, Long Wharf Theatre, and the Harvard Club of Southern Connecticut. In previous chapters of her life, Susannah received an MBA, worked in Venture Capital and ran a career development company in Cambridge MA.
She is the proud wife of a former and future guest editor on RLSG and mother of three fabulous daughters, two of whom are in college and one is in her senior year in high school.