GC Top Mover-and-Shaker: Geri Schroeder
By Jessica Rodrigo
For Geri Schroeder, volunteering her time to the community was a part of daily life. Her daughters participated in school activities in Nazareth Academy and Our Lady of Victory, and as a supportive parent, so was she involved. Once word got around that she was involved in fundraising for school events and could work the circuits, she became part of bigger events, including the Cattle Barons gala as co-chair.
"It started out as friends helping friends," she said. "There were lots of meetings, then phone calls and coordinating. And not just me but a team of people."
The 51-year-old has come to know almost every one who has their hand in the same community cookie jar.
"She is absolutely motivating," said Stephanie Urbano, who collaborated with Laura Koliba to nominate Schroeder. "She makes me want to do something, so I've done more volunteer work."
Schroeder has worked, and still works with Red Cross and various other organizations. Koliba, who remembered working with her during the Mash Bash for the Red Cross a few years ago, agreed that Schroeder is always busy volunteering.
"I would say four out of the seven days in the week, she is out doing something," Koliba said. "She is so much for the arts, sciences and museums here."
Aside from her job at First Prosperity Bank, she is involved in a lot of organizations and groups in Victoria. Schroeder serves as the president of the Victoria Fine Arts Association, coordinating programs and fundraising events in the Crossroads area. She serves as an officer or board member for the Victoria Bach Festival, United Way, Victoria ISD Foundation, Bronte Club and more.
"She loves Victoria. She wants people to have something to do, that's why she works so hard," Koliba said.
Schroeder says the biggest joy from her work is raising the money to put toward events. Knowing a lot of the community members throughout the Crossroads has become one part of the process for her as well. She said that after each event, she learns new techniques and makes note of all the things that work and those that don't.
In addition to working with the community, Schroeder encourages her two daughters to get involved in the community.
"I want them to understand that not everything done has to be for a paycheck," she added. "Volunteering is a great way to get out into the community."
Family: Husband Phil, married 29 years. Children: daughters Aleece, 26, and Jory, 20.
What are your biggest successes with the organizations you're involved in? What one goal do you still want to complete?
Volunteering allows me the chance to learn more about our community's great organizations, to help educate the community about their missions, and therefore to help them help the community. Once people realize the purpose of an organization, what it does and how it contributes to our community, they will want to become involved, attend the events and contribute ideas on how to better serve the community.
I truly enjoy volunteering and consider my biggest personal success to be the numerous friendships that I have developed over the years. Volunteering provides me the opportunity to meet people and to develop long-term friendships with individuals whom otherwise I may never have encountered.
What are some of the specific interests/areas that you strive to promote with your work?
Collaboration. I think it is very important for organizations to work together so that each one can reach its greatest potential.
The arts are an important part of our community and add substantially to the quality of life in Victoria. By making a long-standing contribution to the arts in the Crossroads, I feel that I have helped promote not only the organizations, but also helped provide many individuals of all ages an opportunity to share their talents with others.
Who is someone who has been essential to your successes?
There are numerous individuals who have played a significant role in my success. I am very fortunate to have my husband, Phil, who is always behind the scenes supporting me one hundred percent in everything I do. He takes my "extreme" ideas and makes them a reality. My daughters are also an immeasurable part of my volunteering. When they were growing up, I tried to emphasize the importance of volunteering and to get them involved in the projects that I was working on to teach them the benefits and satisfaction we receive from helping others. I also have an awesome group of friends who are always willing to work on any project or event. Their ideas, talent, and support have produced many of the successful events in the community. In addition, my employer, Prosperity Bank, has encouraged me to be involved with the community and has contributed to my endeavors.
What do you say to someone who says they have no time to commit to volunteering or helping with charity organizations?
Most of us can find time to do what we think is important and what we enjoy. Think of volunteering as an opportunity to create new friendships and business prospects and to explore new areas of interest. If you are interested in learning new things or developing new skills, you may be able to do that by volunteering in some organization. Volunteering does not necessarily require a large amount of time. Hosting a visiting musician or artist can save an organization a significant amount of money while taking very little of your time. Be creative in finding ways to use your limited time to help the groups that you value.