“The mission of Angels of America’s Fallen sells itself,” said AOAF Board President Rick Zink.
And that mission immediately sold Rick on the values of volunteering with the Angel program. He has been involved with Angels of America’s Fallen nearly since its inception in 2012, and has seen the organization’s growth from a variety of voluntary levels.
Rick became aware of Angels of America’s Fallen in 2012 after meeting with CEO and Founder Joe Lewis and his wife Shelli and learning about their impressive start-up AOAF campaign. His connection to the Lewis’s broadened deeper when their son Michael was a star soccer player who Rick coached. As a military veteran, son of a volunteer firefighter and a longtime youth activity volunteer (scouts, sports, church), Rick was attracted to AOAF’s concept of serving children long-term through adulthood.
“My first involvement with Angels was simply helping spread the word about this excellent organization,” Rick said. His role has expanded within AOAF since those earliest days in 2012. He joined its board of directors in 2014 and has served in various roles since then with positions as Board member at-large, treasurer, vice present and ultimately rising to president in 2021. Rick has witnessed the humble AOAF beginnings that has blossomed into a truly nationwide mission.
“I think my biggest, and ongoing, contribution has been to help organize Angels of America’s Fallen to adapt to its rapid growth over the past decade, and to help establish a solid foundation enabling continuous increase in the number of Angels annually supported,” Rick said.
Rick points to the many values that volunteering for Angels of America’s Fallen can bring to an individual or organization, and welcomes people to become involved with AOAF as a volunteer.
“There are many great benefits derived from associating with Angels of America’s Fallen,” Rick said. “First, you serve a great cause helping children, who lost a parent while serving, to write their own success story. We help them seek positive reinforcements so they can grow to be responsible and successful adults. People you would be happy to have as your neighbor.“
Working with such a passionate team of Angel supporters and then be inspired so much by the Angels themselves are other key areas that make volunteering for Angels of America’s Fallen so worth the time commitment.
“You get to work with outstanding, passionate people,” Rick said. “Staff, board members, volunteers and donors all have a heart for service and willingly invest their time, talents and treasure enabling our organization to offer many success-oriented opportunities and succeed in our unique Angels mission of long-duration support. It is inspiring to see the resiliency of our Angels as they overcome a significant challenge, watching them develop the courage to perform in front of hundreds at the Angel Gala, or daringly try a new activity and work hard to build skills and confidence. It is simply an awesome privilege to witness.”
Rick points to older Angels in the program and those who have graduated as a shining example of how the organization is viewed by those it serves.
“Graduates of our program are excited for the opportunity to speak at the Angel Gala and other public forums regarding the motivation and opportunity provided to them through Angel-supported activities and offering frequent contacts with positive adult role models,” Rick said.
Rick says that Angels of America’s Fallen has been successful in part due to its innovation and adaptability, and the willingness for so many to unselfishly chip in – including older Angels themselves.
“During the COVID pandemic lockdowns, after many activity providers were shutdown, our staff innovated restarting activities and lessons online,” Rick said. “An older group of Angels wanted to become the dance instructors online for younger Angel dancers, so they became activity providers while still receiving support for themselves. That exhibits confidence, caring, and sharing – all positive values they benefit from Angels of America’s Fallen support!”