Editor's note: The episode that included Terry Corwin aired on Thursday.
Terry Corwin, a longtime fixture in Rancho Santa Margarita and Coto de Caza, was in New York City this week taping an episode of the Katie Couric show.
The episode, which includes actress Jessica Alba, airs today (Thursday), 3 p.m., on ABC.
Corwin is founder of the Lion's Heart Foundation, a community service organization for teenagers in grades 6-12. She said a crew was in Orange County last week getting footage of volunteers at the Jessie Rees Foundation in Rancho Santa Margarita; the studio taping took place on Tuesday.
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Lion's Heart—and Corwin—will be featured in the second half-hour of the "Katie" show.
"I was very nervous," said Corwin, who moved to Laguna Beach two years ago, "but I'm grateful to get the national exposure for Lion's Heart."
Lion's Heart has provided more than 141,000 service hours, and nearly 108,000 of those hours have come from teen members of the local Trabuco Canyon branch. Membership is open until midnight on Aug. 1.
The Bell Tower Foundation, a volunteer hub for South Orange County, reached out to Corwin to get to know a little more about her, and this interview serves as a suitable primer for anyone interested in watching the episode.
What organizations have you volunteered for?
Wagon Wheel PTA as President, Coto de Caza HOA as District Delegate, Capistrano Unified School District on Attendance Boundary Committees, School Site Council for two schools, Education for the Children Foundation as Executive Director, Board of Governors for the Coto Golf & Racquet Club, and currently with Lion’s Heart—a community service organization for teens—as founder and Executive Director since 2004.
What was the defining moment in your journey as a volunteer?
I was grocery shopping one day, and a mother stopped me and told me how her son was a member of Lion’s Heart. She explained that he was home schooled because of an ongoing health issue. Since he didn’t go to school with his friends, Lion’s Heart provided a great opportunity to not only be with his friends at the meetings but also by performing community service together. He felt somewhat isolated by not attending school. So he really loved Lion’s Heart for connecting him with his friends and his community. That touched me beyond words.
How has volunteering enriched your life?
I’ve met some really caring and giving people in my volunteering endeavors. Many of the close friends I have now are those I met through committees and organizations I have associated with. We had and have a common bond in that we want to improve our community and do it by volunteering.
What should others know about volunteering?
I feel strongly it is something everyone should fit into their life. I realize some people have preconceived notions about what volunteering might be like. You gain the ability to see through to what you can do to make a situation even a slice better, and you learn more and get more in the act of giving than you’ll ever know. Winston Churchill probably said it best: "You make a living by what you get. You make a life by what you give."
What incident made you realize that volunteering was worthwhile?
During the early years of Lion’s Heart, the inaugural group of young boys put together a simple “day of play” for children at a shelter in Tustin. These seventh-grade boys, some of whom hadn’t ever ventured too far from the comforts of home, saw mothers and children in very dire straights; very different from their own home lives. Not only did these boys give a little fun and good cheer to these children during a horrible time in their lives, and give the mothers a break for the day, they could then truly appreciate how blessed they were. Volunteering was not only worthwhile for those children in the shelter, but for the volunteers themselves.
What do you do when you're not volunteering?
My current position as founder and executive director of Lion’s Heart is practically full time. However, I always find time to play tennis. I’m on two teams and love every minute of it.
What do you love most about your community?
I love that you can really count on people in our community to pull together when there is a need, especially on a personal level. If someone in the community is facing adversity, be it the illness of a child, an injury, or a house fire, you know everyone will come forward to help in whatever way they can—even people who do not know the people in need. When someone else in your community receives a gift of volunteering, all benefit because it strengthens the ties of the community which contribute to all taking care of each other and looking out for one another.
What does "community" mean to you?
Community means being connected. After living in the Coto/Rancho Santa Margarita area for about 15 years, we all seem to be connected in some way. It might be our children were on the same team, or we were room mothers together, served on the same committee, or shared a piece of lawn at the outdoor concerts and chatted. The more ways you are involved in your community, the more connections you make, which is the best way to feel you are truly home.
What do you want to say to those thinking about how they can get involved in their community?
I would say find an organization you think you can connect with. You don’t have to initially be completely passionate about it, but you probably will be once you spend any amount of time helping. You will meet other like-minded, giving people. Not only will you be helping with a great cause you and others care about, you could even meet your new best friend!
How have you benefited from someone else volunteering in your community?
Well, not personally, but Lion’s Heart simply would not be possible without all of the parent volunteers who not only coordinate each group of teen members, but also the awards event and trophy chairmen, the chapter presidents, the volunteer outreach chairman, the merchandise chairman, the social media chairman, and so many others! I especially benefit from two women who have worked with me since Lion’s Heart was founded in 2004, Debbie Powell and Karah Curtis. They are truly dedicated!
Tell us about someone who has inspired you by volunteerism?
My late father-in-law, Ken Corwin! Throughout his professional life and retirement, Ken never stopped volunteering for almost every charitable organization in Redlands, Calif. He and his wife, Jane, gave back in so many ways to so many people. Not only did they selflessly give a great deal of their time, they were extremely modest about all their acts of volunteering. They will always be an inspiration to my family, and me.
The Bell Tower Foundation is a Volunteer Connection Hub bringing people and organizations together through volunteer opportunities. It believes that volunteerism enriches the lives of everyone—those who give and receive. Connect with The Bell Tower Foundation on Facebook at facebook.com/TheBellTowerFoundation or its website at belltowerfoundation.org.