Erica Shanks is everywhere. She’s Chair of the HUB-BUB Advisory Board, she’s the AmeriCorps*VISTA Leader with United Way of the Piedmont overseeing 20 VISTA members at 20 different non-profit organizations in Spartanburg, Cherokee and Union counties, and she has also just officially taken over as the Youth Coalition Coordinator with the City of Spartanburg. And she was just named the 2011 Young Careerist by The Breakfast Business and Professional Women of Spartanburg. You should know her because she’s making a difference in Spartanburg.
What brought you to Spartanburg?
I came to Spartanburg to serve as an AmeriCorps*VISTA with an organization called Upstate Forever. I am from SC, but said I would never return after I left to go to college in Missouri. When I came back to the south after traveling abroad and state side, I found SC was the place I was destined to be at that time. After arriving in the “Burg” I found it to be the most amazing, supportive, and creative place for new ideas. I wouldn’t change my decision for the world and now love the community I have become a part of. Oh, and I guess my boyfriend living here would have something to do with it too. 🙂
What did you think when you first heard about HUB-BUB?
The network of people I met when I arrived in Spartanburg were and still are great supporters of our community, local organizations, and getting involved. So, when I heard of HUB-BUB, I pictured in my head music, art and advocacy. The biggest thing I thought of, though, was, “Great, can I afford this on my small VISTA stipend?” I am glad to say now that my VISTA budget presented no barriers. Obviously I am still here. 🙂
What made you volunteer to be on the HUB-BUB Advisory Board?
I saw an opportunity to not only put my leadership skills to good use, but also to support an organization that I love and that showed support to me when I first arrived in the “Burg.” The HUB-BUB community feels almost like a big family, and I needed that when I arrived here and knew no one. They took me under their wing, and I consider this my contribution back to them. Another big reason is I get to share my ideas with an organization and they listen to me. All of those ideas may not pan out, but just to be able to have a voice for a mission I’m passionate about is important to me. I chair this board with excitement!
In my mind I would sound like a tap dancer on stage. I was a dancer for 16 years, and I miss it so much. It was the way I expressed my emotions for so long, and I would love to hear that sound again. Regardless of what type of dancing it is; the sound of my arms moving in the air, my feet pressing against the stage, and my breath heavy as I move around, those are the sounds I would make.
Tell us about your passions.
Haha–ask anyone who knows me well and you will see that question is very tough for me. I am passionate about a lot of things, but I can pick two that stand out the most. One is active living and healthy lifestyles for our youth. Childhood obesity lights me on fire, and if I could end it today I would. I will spare you my wrath, but know it is a growing issue amongst out nation’s youth and if we don’t start doing something about it now, who will? We need to get outside more, play with our children, get them involved in physical activities, and most of all, know what we are putting in their bodies. Get educated about what you eat and where it comes from. Support our local farmers.
Second, my “kids for now,” as I call them. Animals. I am an avid volunteer and advocate for rescue organizations. I believe in the welfare of our animals, and animal cruelty is a harsh thing that has to come to an end. Animals really can be our best friends, and we should give them the love they deserve. Spay and neuter your animals. Strays always need a loving home. You can prevent this by being a responsible and loving pet owner. (And Erica has an awesome rescue pup named Bravyn!)
Read more about Erica on her blog. And look for her at the next HUB-BUB event!