Volunteer Spotlight: Lisa Startsman


“I love watching clients find joy in singing and dancing, and even more beautiful, connect and make friends. I once heard a conversation with 2 clients where one expressed that she didn’t understand the other, and he said,” I understand, that can happen, let’s try again”

How long have you been volunteering at A Place To Be, how did you learn about us/get started volunteering with us?

I am in my 3rd year of volunteering for A Place to Be.  I read about A Place to Be in local newspapers and it seemed so fun. In 2020 I requested to become a volunteer through Loudoun Cares.  I read through everything on the website and watched every available video and was captivated.  It touched my heart, and I really wanted to become a part of this wonderful community.

What were some of the ways you’ve been involved with APTB over the years?  Do you have any specific moments that stick out to you, or inspiring or joyous moments you would like to share?

I have been involved with the groups: Legacy Farms, MOST, Music Mashup, Express Yourself, Connections and Creative Expressions. From my very 1st interactions with co-founder Kim Tapper and every single time that I have attended a session, there has been some sort of inspiring or joyous moment. In my 1st conversation and with Kim, I knew that I had found a magical, special place and I wanted to be a part of it. She drew me in with her warmth, kindness and calm energy.  

In the volunteer orientation, I didn’t quite understand the scope of “accepting and meeting people where they are” despite being a dance educator in the area for over 35 years. I really thought and had heard that I was good at connecting with people and giving my students “what they need”. But in the past few years, at A Place To Be, I have grown and learned so much more. I have learned a whole new outlook and  a way to really “see” people, and appreciate everything they have to offer.  I always leave a group session feeling brighter and more optimistic.  I wanted to volunteer to have a sense of giving, but I soon realized that I was getting so much more than I was giving.  I wanted to help create the energy of acceptance and inspire people, wherever they may be, but in hindsight, I had no idea what that actually meant.  I was the one who learned by being a part of these groups, what unconditional acceptance and appreciation for each individual truly is. The clients inspire me because of their abilities.  Their ability to be their pure, authentic selves, be resilient, and to find and show joy. 

Favorite moments include when a client chose a piece of music and literally went from seemingly disengaged, to completely vibrant and dancing salsa.  I love watching clients find joy in singing and dancing, and even more beautiful, connect and make friends.  I once heard a conversation with 2 clients where one expressed that she didn’t understand the other, and he said,” I understand, that can happen, let’s try again”. There is so much wisdom to learn from everyone. Every recital/show is pure joy to witness the growth and pride the clients display.  I have been fortunate to be in groups with many therapists.  It is incredible to watch their passion for their work, teamwork and talents touch and improve so many lives.

Why should someone volunteer at A Place To Be?  What sets being involved with APTB apart from other organizations, and what has kept you coming back?

Volunteering at A Place To Be, has enriched my life always feels incredibly rewarding and uplifting. The staff, administration and clients are warm, kind, respectful and appreciative. They go out of their way to make me feel valued and that I am making a difference. A Place To Be is growing by leaps and bounds but it always feels like a close- knit family and that every person matters. They truly practice their motto/mission statement. I thought that I was volunteering to give to others, but I am actually getting so much more than the time that I am giving. Being a part of this community is healing. It is an education in being human and accepting and meeting everyone as being equally human. I keep coming back and wanting to be a part of the community more and more because I feel valued and appreciated. To be a part of this community is humbling, and it has taught me so much about how to be a better person, even at 61 years old.


If you are interested in volunteering at A Place To Be, reach out to us on our volunteer page!


Leave a Reply

Create a website or blog at WordPress.com

%d bloggers like this: