Volunteer Spotlight: Julia Pagones

 As the daughter of two prominent community leaders in Dutchess County, giving back has always been an ingrained philosophy for Julia Pagones. “Growing up I was always taught the importance of giving back and making a difference in the community. I know how much of an impact one person can have,” explains Julia.

Julia Pagones has been a part of Young Leaders United for four years. When she first began with Young Leaders United, Julia was introduced to the Book Buddies program through Literacy Connections of the Hudson Valley. Previously she read at the Catharine Street Community Center and Poughkeepsie Day Nursery School to a group of children during the summer as part of the Classroom Book Buddies program, but then moved on to one-on-one reading. This is now Julia’s second year participating as a Book Buddy and she absolutely loves it! Once a week, for an hour, Julia will read with a second grader from Krieger Elementary School. She admires how excited and energetic her student is, and has learned to be more patient as a result! Julia says that she encourages her buddy to read to her like she’s their teacher so they feel empowered and confident. “Being a book buddy is extremely rewarding, I get to see how much my buddy grows over time, how much they’ve improved and it makes me feel like I’m making a difference.”

Apart from being involved with Young Leaders United, Julia works with a variety of other organizations. Recently, Julia was named co-chair of the Hudson Valley Young Professionals, through the Dutchess County Regional Chamber of Commerce. She is very excited to be co-chair! Julia attributes her participation in Young Professionals to helping her grow professionally and personally.

Aside from being a part of the Hudson Valley Young Professionals, Julia has participated in the Polar Plunge for Special Olympics NY, Hudson Valley Region for the past six years now.  “The water may be cold, but it’s such a fun day filled with people dressed up in costumes and great energy that it makes the cold water bearable!” Additionally, Julia is a committee-member for the Dutchess County Leadership Prayer Breakfast, held annually the first Tuesday in May. “It is an extremely uplifting way to start your day and I’m blessed to be a part of such an inspiring event.”

Yet, her volunteer experience doesn’t stop there! For the last five years, she served on the committee for the Step Into Spring Dinner & Fashion Show, an event benefitting the American Cancer Society’s Making Strides Against Breast Cancer. It’s certain that Julia has her plate full of volunteer experiences!

A native of the Hudson Valley, it’s safe to say Julia knows the place pretty well. Born and raised in Fishkill, Julia finds it’s rewarding to be able to see the direct impact her work has on her local community. In her spare time, Julia likes to explore the outdoors. One of her favorite parts of living in the Hudson Valley is all the different opportunities for outdoor activities. She enjoys hiking, especially Mount Beacon and Breakneck Ridge, and likes to attend NY Giants and Rangers games whenever she can.

Julia encourages you to volunteer. “Pick something that is of importance to you or something you feel passionate about and go with it,” said Julia. “You can have such an impact on someone’s life in ways you can’t even imagine!”

To learn how to be like Julia and start your volunteer experience, visit volunteer.uwdor.org.

—Clare O’Keefe, Spring 2016 Marketing & Public Relations Intern
Mount Saint Mary College, Class of ’17