Editor: In honor of Women’s History Month, we are featuring interviews with local women leaders. These pieces were written by Baylor University students from the Department of Journalism, Public Relations, and New Media.
By Nikita Delfin
Americans move on average once every five years, according to demographers, and “home” is now considered a temporary stopping place rather than a permanent habitation.
With more than 250,000 people choosing to live in Waco and McLennan County, one might wonder what there is to love about the place.
Carolyn Haferkamp, president – chief lending officer of Central National Bank, Baylor alumna, and Waco native, says it just so happens to be the people.
“It’s the family environment,” she said. “I think that so many people that we know, beyond their own families, have this great friend group and support system. Everyone just takes care of everyone, and that’s what I appreciate the most about it.”
It is this same family-friendly and supportive atmosphere that leads Haferkamp and other Wacoans to improve the welfare of the community. And this civic engagement and participation is vital.
“I think that as a community we take for granted some of the services, activities, and opportunities we have,” she said. “All of those things are usually volunteer-driven and without volunteers who are serving on the boards, showing up every day, sorting through donations and helping an event take place, those things wouldn’t happen.”
Regardless of age, background or the stage of life someone might be in, Haferkamp said anyone and everyone can truly benefit from participating in community engagement programs.
With Waco being a bustling college town, she encourages college and university students to reach out to the city’s bigger organizations.
“For a Baylor student, I would not necessarily recommend Junior League of Waco because it is a long-term commitment but reach out to some of the bigger organizations who touch many different agencies like Act Locally or United Way,” she said. “Ask them where the opportunities are and say that you would like to serve.”
For young professionals who are more sure about staying and residing in Waco, she recommends the Junior League. Haferkamp, herself, has contributed 10 years of active service with the Junior League and is currently a sustainer.
The Junior League is an organization of women committed to promoting voluntarism and strengthening the community through creative solutions to current and future challenges.
“It allows you to see every little facet of Waco and where the different needs are,” she said. “We have this very robust secondary education system with Baylor, TSTC, and MCC, but the level of poverty and preschool education availability are areas where we could improve.”
Aside from directly benefiting those in the community, Haferkamp said volunteering and participation are excellent opportunities to bond with your fellow citizens. More importantly, it is something that is fulfilling and rewarding.
“It plugs you in, not only with the community, but also to a social circle,” she said. “It connects you to people who are like you, but also, it’s good for your own self-fulfillment. Being involved in the community is taking ownership, and I think when you take ownership, you enjoy it more.”
Nikita Delfin is a junior English major from Brenham who hopes to one day teach literature to people of all ages.
The Act Locally Waco blog publishes posts with a connection to these aspirations for Waco. If you are interested in writing for the Act Locally Waco Blog, please email Ferrell Foster at [email protected].