Each month, BN360, the young professional development and engagement program of the Buffalo Niagara Partnership, recognizes and celebrates an outstanding young person in our community. For the month of April, we are celebrating Vilona Trachtenberg.
Upon meeting Vilona, it is immediately clear to see why she deserves to be recognized and celebrated. Her positive personality and pure desire to give back to Buffalo Niagara radiate in her words and actions. Here is our interview with Vilona:
[Q] What inspired you to decide to start giving back with your time and talents?
I started to volunteer for a few reasons. One, while I was working at Rich Products, I had a great mentor who presented opportunities. Rich’s gives out a Community Service Award each year. I was so inspired and motivated by the recipient, I thought, I want to do this. So I made up my mind to go do it.
Two, I had a personal experience. The kind that teaches you a lesson that really sticks with you. The lesson here being, what can you specifically do to better your community and to help others.
[Q] What was the first volunteer commitment you made?
After college, I had a hard time finding a job. For a lot of people, myself included, it is a weird time of transition and finding yourself. I had loved dancing growing up and decided this was a good time to get back into it. Through adult dance classes, I learned about Danceability. They needed volunteers, and for the first time, I decided to volunteer through my own volition, because I wanted to. That really started things for me in terms of understanding the value and importance of giving back.
[Q] What has giving back taught you?
Volunteering is two-fold. While your main goal is to help others, you realize that others are also helping you. Through my experiences, I have learned a lot both personally and professionally. I gained new skills that have helped me in my own development, and I have gained understanding into business. Through volunteering, you often have opportunities to take initiative and to practice your leadership skills.
[Q] What was one experience volunteering where you took the lead?
In 2016, I helped lead a team for a fundraiser to benefit the Special Olympics. It was a three-day Olympic-themed event. We invited Special Olympic athletes to be involved and even had a torch passing. This lead me to be more involved with the Polar Plunge and to organize and lead teams for that initiative as well.
[Q] How has community involvement influenced your career path?
Through volunteering, I have met so many great people and learned so much about myself and our community. Through these different experiences, I continue to learn where my passion is.
I have a background in journalism. As a kid, I always loved writing, and still do today. Professionally though, I work in data analytics and supply chain. Two very different interests and paths. Volunteering in an outlet to use these different interests, while also discovering and exploring new interests.
[Q] Between working full-time, personal obligations and your commitment to the community, how do you balance it all?
Life is full of choices. Finding balance is about what choices you make. I choose to use my time to give back. It is my decision. If I didn’t want to do it, I wouldn’t. Giving back my time and learning from others makes me happy, so I do choose to use my time doing what makes me happy.
This content was produced in collaboration between Buffalo Rising and the Buffalo Niagara Partnership. The facts and opinions published in Buffalo Rising express solely the thoughts and opinions of our respective authors