National Volunteer Week Spotlight: Kathi Vandel

April 21 – 27, 2024 is National Volunteer Week! Today we’re celebrating Kathi Vandel. Read on to learn more about Kathi and why she volunteers to support the Mission.

Tell us a little bit about yourself.

Kathi: My husband, Jeff, and I live in the countryside outside of the historic and artistic community of Weston, Missouri. We have four grown children ranging in age from 27 to 19. I am the owner of a boutique architectural lighting design and engineering consulting firm and enjoy transforming different types of commercial construction projects through lighting. In my spare time, now that my kids are out of the house, I’m attempting to learn Spanish and like to tackle home improvement projects!

How did you initially get connected to San Lucas?

Kathi: I visited San Lucas for the first time in 2012 with my oldest son and daughter. We built stoves and loved meeting the wonderful people of San Lucas! I followed up with another visit with the same daughter and my other son a few years later. We built a few more stoves and a community building. Since then, that daughter served as a Long-Term Volunteer, and my husband and youngest daughter have now visited too.

In what capacity do you volunteer with Friends of San Lucas?

Kathi: I am a member of the Board of Directors for Friends of San Lucas. I serve on the Governance Committee, Construction Committee, and the Women’s Center Committee. I am amazed at the progress of the Women’s Center over the years and the impact they have on the local women and children. I am always keeping an eye out for opportunities that they might be able to implement. Learning about the practices of the Construction Committee has also been so inspiring! The local architects work extremely hard in all their projects. To see what they do and the lives they affect is very inspiring.

What motivated you to become a volunteer with FOSL?

Kathi: After a few visits to San Lucas I was feeling the call to make a difference. I desired to contribute in a meaningful way to something bigger. To be able to make a significant impact in someone’s life other than mine or my family’s seemed a really worthwhile use of my time. Knowing the people of San Lucas and their positive, cheerful, and faithful outlook on life, I knew that I would also benefit significantly from a more involved relationship. My experience with San Lucas has been eye-opening and life-changing for me.

Why is the Mission’s work important to you?

Kathi: The one goal that is the most important to me is that the Mission empowers the local community to take charge of their future. My favorite stories are the ones regarding the small construction contractors and coffee farmers that have created their own businesses and now work for/with the Mission. Talk about a generational impact that this can have on their families! FOSL is not just supporting the community, they are empowering folks to take control of their lives in order to establish a successful future. Combine this with providing housing, stoves, and water – their lives are forever changed.

Many thanks to Kathi for the time and energy she is devoting to supporting the Mission’s work towards a more just world.

To learn how you can get involved, click here.

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