Heather Connolly, Vice President of Development and Programs

How would you describe your role to a child?

My job is to help provide new winter coats to children who need them.

What does #morethanacoat mean to you?

To me, “more than a coat” can best be described by the feeling you get when you have on something new that you love…like a new pair of shoes. You have a little more pep in your step. You can really see that with the kids when they get to pick out and put on their new coat. Their smile, swagger and confidence says it all! I also think that another element of “more than a coat” can be seen at our events.  When strangers “show up” for them to give them this gift of a brand new coat, it shows them that people really care about them.

How would you describe an Operation Warm coat giving event?

I think a lot of our volunteers are actually caught off guard by the reaction that the children have to receiving a coat.  Most of them take a having a coat for granted. The kids are truly grateful and excited to get to pick out something new.  When we pull all of the volunteers together at the end of our events we encourage them to share their experiences from the day. They often share emotional stories, like a child not wanting to give the coat back after trying it on to get their name written inside it for fear that they won’t be able to keep it. The opportunity to interact directly with children differentiates Operation Warm events from a lot of other volunteer experiences. It may be a short period of time, but it’s a very joyful and meaningful experience. We also really hope that these events create an awareness for our volunteers and inspire them to do more to help their communities.

Who do you look up to most at Operation Warm?

I feel really great about the team that we have at Operation Warm. It’s a small, but powerful group that brings diverse personalities, skills, and gifts. What I love most is the opportunity to work collaboratively with all of them to try to do a little something good in this world.

What are your hopes for the future of Operation Warm?

I hope that we continue to evolve and grow as an organization. We’re developing new programs and ways to help more kids not only by providing them with a coat but by giving it to them in ways that expose them to other organizations and services that can help them. The bottom line is that the success of the organization really comes down to Dick’s vision.  He pushes us and asks the tough questions. How can we do things differently? How can we do things better? How can we reach more kids? It’s pretty exciting!

What are your interests outside of Operation Warm?

My husband Eric and my two children Merritt and Emma are my world.  I’m so proud of them. I absolutely love being with my entire family and really cherish the time together.  My mom, dad, and siblings have helped me become the person I am today and constantly inspire me to do more. I also really enjoy all types of exercise, it’s my sanity…running, biking, swimming, kettlebells…I love it all!

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