Julie Guggemos’ mom instilled in her an appreciation for how important family support services like those offered by YWCA St. Paul can be to a young family. “I’m really impressed with how the YWCA provides housing to women and families, offering stability and safety. Securing safe housing freed my mom to find employment as a young parent. It was a basic need and allowed her to get her feet under herself.” Those support services are one of the reasons Julie has been attracted to volunteering with YWCA St. Paul.
Following the murder of George Floyd, Julie wanted to get involved with an organization that was actively fighting racism. That desire led her to YW where she first interacted with participants in the Girls Emerge program, which shows young women how they can make change in the community. “I enjoyed the ‘hands-on’ experience because as we packed care kits for young mothers, we were able to have candid conversations about the girls’ dreams for the future and career opportunities. I shared with them the importance of setting goals, finding mentors, and dreaming big.”
In her role as Target’s Chief Design Officer and SVP, Julie also knows the value of volunteering in the community. “Target is very grounded in our values—serving others and providing an equitable experience is embedded in our culture. One of the reasons I wanted to work with this company—and why I’ve stayed for 30+ years—was because of that commitment to community.”
Julie has taken that community commitment to the next level. She’s currently the executive sponsor of Target’s Volunteer Council where her goal is to create meaningful experiences for employee volunteers that lead to lasting community impact. “I volunteered for this role because helping others is my core purpose. I’m willing to get my hands dirty and dig in. And I’ve also gathered some pretty impressive sheetrocking and shingling skills!”
When others ask for advice about incorporating volunteerism into busy lives, she has a couple suggestions. “I only serve on one board at a time – then I can give it my undivided attention. Volunteer experiences are prioritized on my calendar – I don’t ‘squeeze’ them in. And I look for volunteer opportunities that align with my personal values. I think it’s so important to understand what you value most and seek opportunities that align. If you do that, you’ll find volunteering is even more fulfilling.”