VOLUNTEER OF THE WEEK: Ali Hopson gives more than just an hour of her time
Published 8:00 am Sunday, August 21, 2022
This week’s Vicksburg Post Volunteer of the Week is Ali Hopson, who volunteers with Teens United and Supper on the ‘Sip at United Way of West Central Mississippi. Hopson is a registered dietitian at Merit Health River Region, KPC Promise Hospital and co-owner of Nutrition Matters, LLC. She serves on the Vicksburg Convention Center Advisory Board, Ole Miss Alumni Association Board of Directors, is a past president of the Official Mississippi Women’s Club and is a member of Crawford Street United Methodist Church. She is married to Sen. Briggs Hopson and they have three children.
How did Teens United and Supper on the ‘Sip come about?
Teens United was formed during the COVID-19 pandemic. Many teens still needed to get volunteer hours for clubs but restrictions limited what they could do. One day, my daughter said she thought she could get “an hour” for walking our dog. She and I realized then that something had to change. We met with Michele Connelly and a few other teens. They learned about the United Way and their partner agencies, and began to discuss creative ways that teens from local schools could help.
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Supper on the ‘Sip came about after several brainstorming sessions with wonderful people who support the United Way. We were looking for a new and exciting way to help fund the campaign and wanted it to take place near the Mississippi River. The Old Mississippi River Bridge was suggested as a location and after nine months of planning, the dream became a reality.
How long have you been volunteering with United Way’s Supper on the ‘Sip and Teens United?
I started volunteering with Supper on the ‘Sip in 2018 and Teens United in 2020.
What is your favorite memory while volunteering?
My favorite memory was when I stood on the bridge the night of the first Supper on the ‘Sip in 2018. Knowing how many people had given so much of their time and seeing how the community turned out to support the event, was truly a Live United moment.
What would you tell someone who is thinking about volunteering?
I would tell them to say “Yes” to that thought. Your community needs you and there are many ways you can help. Because the United Way partners with so many local agencies, their staff knows the needs of our community. Let them know what your interests are and they will match you to an agency that you will love!
What are some of your responsibilities with Supper on the ‘Sip and Teens United?
My main responsibility for Supper on the ‘Sip is to help oversee the event. When questions arise, I help Michele and the staff answers them and we meet often to make sure things are on schedule. So much of the behind-the-scenes work is done by our committee chairs and this event could not happen without them.
My main responsibility with Teens United is to be their cheerleader. The teens learn about the agencies and plan their own projects. I am there to encourage them to step out of their comfort zones and lead.
What have you learned while volunteering for these events?
The hashtag for Teens United is #morethanjustanhour and I think of that often when I am volunteering. You give your time but you gain compassion for others, develop new friendships, and end up wanting to give more. Volunteering with the United Way has made me a better person and I am so thankful for the opportunity.
If there is a volunteer who should be featured, please submit their name and contact information to firstname.lastname@example.org.