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March 12, 2011

'We're here to make a difference'
Volunteer returns to help lead group
Argus Leader by Sarah Reineck

Betsy Homan, HelpLine CenterBetsy Homan's passion lies in helping others.

That's how she found a career in the nonprofit sector at the HelpLine Center in Sioux Falls - the same organization she volunteered at as a Brandon Valley High School student.

"It's really the community that invested in me and I grew up in, and that's where I wanted to come back and start a career," said Homan, who is resource development director for the center.

Question: Describe what you do as resource development director.

Answer: I work a lot on the donor side of things - the grant writing, marketing, more with our executive director on board development and just sharing the story of the HelpLine Center, letting people know it's a free service that everyone can use in some way. Nothing is ever the same; every day is different. I may be updating a website one day, then the next day, everybody in the office does take phone calls, so I have a weekly phone call shift.

Q: What is the mission at HelpLine?

A: The mission is strengthening individuals, family and community by bridging people with support. How I explain it is we live in the community with the Big Sioux River, so on one side, if you have questions or needs, that's one thing, on the other side, there's programs, resources, people there ready to help. But if you don't know how to get across that river, it's very frustrating. So that's where the HelpLine Center comes in, and we're that bridge so you can dial 211 and ask.

Q: Who do you serve?

It runs the gamut. You never know what the phone call may be. It may be a simple one that asks the phone number to the register of deeds office. Then the next one may be a teenager struggling with depression in high school and you talk with them about that and get them connected with counselors.

What is it that's kept you in the nonprofit sector?

A: What's kept me here is at the end of the day I know I'm helping people, and I grew up in a family where servant leadership was encouraged. I saw that in my parents. We're here to make a difference, so at the end of the day I know that I made a difference in one life. That helps me smile and lets me fall asleep peacefully. So that's what's kept me. I know that I'm just one piece of the big puzzle, and I'm doing my part to help the big picture.

What is it about Sioux Falls that brought you back here after working for two years in Mankato?

For me, it's the ability to go someplace and always see a familiar place. My family is very important. Sioux Falls in general is just a great place. It's just the quality of life. Especially as a young professional, there's so many people willing to take you under their wings and mentor you and they want to see you succeed, so I think that is just a huge benefit as a young professional. If you're willing to put yourself out there, meet people, you will find mentors along the way, that they're invested in you, they want to see you succeed so Sioux Falls continues to succeed.