Volunteering gives me so much joy and fills me with purpose.
Linda Blacken grew up in an Army family that travelled a lot. She was born in Alaska, but the family eventually made their way across the country before settling in Virginia. She now lives in New Jersey working as an editor for medical literature to help patients better understand the medicine they are taking. And for the past fourteen years, she has been an avid volunteer with New York Cares.
“I began volunteering in 2004,” said Linda. “Growing up in a household where both parents gave their time to different community efforts and individuals, volunteering was just a normal part of life. A few years after an injury stalled my career as a professional musician, I needed to fill that space in my life with something that was more meaningful than just having an office job. One day I was chatting with a friend about looking for a way to volunteer. I told him about some individual efforts that had failed, and he told me about New York Cares. I signed up to attend a one-hour orientation, and that was the start of this amazing journey that has provided so much growth and joy in my life.”
Linda says she likes the variety of projects she can get involved in through New York Cares. She has become a team leader with the organization, training other volunteers to lead programs in areas like children’s education, environmental improvement, large community initiatives and volunteer training.
“One of the things I enjoy the most is having the opportunity to make a positive change in or impression on someone else’s life,” says Linda. “I’ve led a team of volunteers taking elementary school students on monthly field trips for 13 years now. We’ve gone on tons of fun and exciting adventures their families might not have been able to provide for them. While I don’t need the kids to remember me when they’re older, I do hope they remember there was that nice lady and her team who took them on fun trips when they were kids.”
Linda also logs the time she spends volunteering through Reward Volunteers. She learned of the Cabot program through longtime friend and 2014 Cabot Celebrity Beth Lehmann, who shares her volunteer time on Facebook. Once she learned of the program, Linda started logging volunteer time on behalf of her organization and sharing it online.
“Being a part of the 2017 Cabot Celebrity Alaska Cruise was really special for me,” said Linda. “I was born in Alaska, and the cruise was the first time I had been back after my family left when I was an infant. The cruise was also a day after my birthday, making that special cruise really feel like a journey home.”
In her spare time, Linda loves to craft. She has shelves full of various supplies for things like beading, polymer clay, knitting, crocheting, sewing and bedazzling. She also was once a professional French horn player and still plays today. Her favorite Cabot cheese is Shredded Mozzarella.
Cabot has also honored New York Cares volunteer Beth Lehmann (2014) with Community Celebrity Cruises who returns this year as an Alumnus along with first-time New York Cares Community Celebrity Phara Policar.
This will be Linda’s second Cabot Community Celebrity Cruise. She was first honored by Cabot with a cruise in 2017 on our trip to Alaska. We’re honored to have Linda join us again as a 2019 Community Celebrity Cruise alumnus.