Tag Archives: Volunteer Opportunity

Andrew Szymanski



With every great person, there’s a great story. Learn more about Andrew Szymanski and the Montgomery Dragonboat Races here! Andrew grew up in the small Northeastern town of Topsfield, Massachusetts. After high school, he moved south to Athens, GA to attend the University of Georgia, where he received a degree in Communications. Upon graduation, he decided to pursue his interest in nonprofits by serving in the AmeriCorps VISTA program, placing him in Montgomery, AL. Andrew served as program director for Bridge Builders Alabama, an organization that develops leadership skills and civic engagement practices in high school students. During his year of service, he quickly realized that the biggest impediment to nonprofits doing great work was access to funding and the development of strategic partnerships with local businesses and government entities.

Andrew’s introduction to dragon boating came early in 2010, through a conversation with non-profit acquaintances who had heard of an event in Chattanooga. It was new and exciting, and he determined it would be a unique fundraising tool for local Montgomery nonprofit agencies. The Montgomery Dragon Boat Festival was incorporated in 2010 and since then Andrew has served as its Executive Director. From its inaugural year, it has grown to be one of Montgomery’s largest events with an annual attendance of over 10,000 people and participation of 60-70 teams. Over the past 8 years he has overseen the distribution of over $250,000 in grant money to his organization’s beneficiaries.

In 2012 Andrew joined the Southeast Regional Dragon Boat Association as a state representative for Alabama. Two years later he was elected President and began to expand the reach of the sport in the Southern US. He also had the opportunity to serve on the United States Dragon Boat Federation Board of Directors for 3 years and in 2017 was elected President of the USDBF. The USDBF is the governing body for competitive dragon boating in the United States and in October of 2017 he took 240 Team USA athletes to the Dragon Boat World Championships in Kunming, China. The United States finished 3rd in the Nations Cup in 2017 and they are excited about bringing an even stronger team to the next World Championships in Pattaya, Thailand in 2019.

Andrew is the owner of two amazing dogs, Mr. Smudge and Miss Maple. He loves visiting his parent’s vacation home on Mount Desert Island off the Northern Coast of Maine and eating as much seafood he possibly can each fall. In 2017 Andrew bought his first home in the historic Cloverdale Idlewild neighborhood and looks forward too many more years in Alabama’s capital city.

To register for the Dragon Boat race, follow this link: https://montgomerydragonboat.org/


Elizabeth Williams



Elizabeth was born and raised in Montgomery, Alabama. She earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in Communication and Information Sciences from the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa, AL. She has a total of 14 years of experience in communications, marketing and public relations. As a young professional, she is a member of Emerge Montgomery, Torchbearers Class III and serves on the Girls on the Run Executive Board. She also has an active role on several planning committees for numerous programs and events. Elizabeth devotes time outside of work to numerous nonprofit organizations including Boy Scouts of America (Exploring), March of Dimes, American Cancer Society, Muscular Dystrophy Association, Arthritis Foundation, American Heart Association and Alabama Kidney Foundation. Elizabeth is a member of True Divine Baptist Church where she serves with the greeting ministry, girls ministry and health ministry. She is currently the Community Events Manager for Baptist Health where she has worked since July 2006.


Mia Mothershed



Difference maker this week is Mia Mothershed of Jackson Hospital! Mia is the marketing and public relations director and is committed to a healthy river region. On Saturday, February 24th, Jackson Hospital is holding their annual heart health screening. It starts at 8am and ends at 11am. To register for this event (for all ages) www.jackson.org/events

Mia is active in the community and volunteers her time with several organizations including the Junior League, Leadership Montgomery and currently serves as ambassador chairman for the Montgomery Area Chamber of Commerce.


Chandalyn Chrzanowski



Our Difference maker this week is Chandalyn Chrzanowski of Montgomery Area Nontraditional Equestrians or M.A.N.E.; MANE is a non-profit organization formed in 1994 that provides safe and effective therapeutic horseback riding opportunities to Montgomery and tri-county area children and adults with emotional, physical, cognitive, and developmental disabilities. MANE holds 501(C)3 corporation status, is a fully accredited Premier Riding Center
through the Professional Association for Therapeutic Horsemanship International (PATH Intl.), and all instructors are certified by PATH Intl. PATH Intl. is a regulatory agency that assures stringent standards for quality therapeutic horseback riding through instructor certification, site accreditation, and program monitoring.

Therapeutic horseback riding provides extremely important and effective intervention for people with cognitive, emotional, and/or physical disabilities. A rider straddling a horse stretches tight or spastic muscles throughout his or her body. Instructors and therapists use the three-dimensional rhythmic motion of the horse to reduce spasticity and abnormal movements, quicken reflexes, aid in motor planning, and strengthen muscles, joints, and tendons damaged by trauma or illness in their disabled patients. Riders with physical impairments or limited mobility can experience increased balance and muscle control; a wider range of motion; and improved respiration, circulation, appetite, and digestion. Confidence and enhanced self-esteem are positive by-products of therapeutic riding.

MANE’s new 44 acre site is located at 3699 Wallahatchie Road in East Montgomery, and includes an outdoor riding ring, office, 15 stall barn with indoor riding area, and a 3 acre state-of-the-art sensory integration trail. MANE serves around 100 individuals weekly. Call 334-213-0909 today to get your rider registered for one of our 3 ten-week sessions or our children’s summer camp which are held each year.

Chandalyn has grown up with horses interacting with them at her mother’s barn. She began riding hunter seat and developed equine skills from not only her mom, but also from various trainers and instructors. She has worked and volunteered at many riding programs, both therapeutic riding and show barns. Chandalyn competed on the IHSA team at both Wesleyan College and St. Andrews University, where she graduated with BA degree in Therapeutic Horsemanship and obtained Registered PATH instructor certification. While at St. Andrews, she spent her time riding on the equestrian team and working with the therapeutic program there. After graduating, she went to work at a show barn with noted equine trainer Shep Welles and assisted in managing the barn. This allowed Chandalyn to work with many different kinds of horses, taking a variety of lessons, as well as showing and teaching lessons. She joined MANE in April of 2014 instantly becoming part of the MANE team by charming staff, riders, and the Board with her personality and passion. Since working at MANE, Chandalyn’s passion for the industry has driven her to acquire her Advance Instructor Certification.

For more info please go to maneweb.org


Laurel Teel



Our difference maker this week is Laurel Teel! Laurel’s love for children has been a driving force in her career since graduating from Auburn University in 2010. Her titles have included kindergarten teacher at a Primrose School, founder of Mustaches for Kids Montgomery, and now Child Protect’s Development Director at the Children’s Advocacy Center. Laurel is responsible for oversight of the Young Professionals Board, as well as fundraising, special event coordination, and all social media platforms. “My position allows me to see the good in the people of our community and that in turn inspires me to do everything I can for the children we serve,” she explains. In addition to Laurel’s Mustaches for Kids work, she also serves as Member-at-Large for the Central Alabama Chapter of the Association of Fundraising Professionals and volunteers with That’s My Child’s Young Professionals board. Laurel attributes her success to her father, who she believes he has been an ideal example of great work ethic and career dedication. Laurel attends Church of the Highlands and enjoys working out at NOW Total Fitness. In her free time, Laurel enjoys spending time with friends and family at Lake Martin.


Beth Anne Dunagan



Our difference maker this week is Beth Anne Dunagan, Executive Director of EAT South. EAT South is an urban teaching farm that engages the community by gathering around, learning about and growing food. The agency empowers people to change the way food travels from the ground to our plates. E.A.T. South is a non-profit organization based in Montgomery, Alabama that encourages healthy lifestyles through education and sustainable food production in the River Region. E.A.T. South envisions communities across the Southeast having access to fresh, healthy, affordable food and the knowledge about food preparation that supports a healthy lifestyle.

The E.A.T. South Farm is located in the heart of Montgomery! The urban teaching farms offer educational programs such as Good Food Day field trips and provides fresh, naturally-grown fruits and vegetables for the greater Montgomery area.

Beth Ann grew up in the hills of Northeast Georgia. She is a 2012 graduate of Berry College in Rome, Georgia. After finishing her Bachelor’s Degree in Government, she served two years as a Teach for America Corps Member where she taught 11th grade US History and AP US History at Lee High School in Montgomery. During the summer of her time as a Corps Member, she interned for the Jacksonville Public Education Fund in Jacksonville, Florida. Beth Anne started working for EAT South in 2015 and has served as its Executive Director since 2016. She is excited about the work EAT South is doing in the River Region as she works to make a positive impact in Montgomery. Beth Anne lives in the beautiful Garden District with her husband DJ and her dog Chloe.