By Diane Holloway
Volunteer Molly Burnette is one of those fabulous surprises every nonprofit hopes to recruit. She started at Trinity Center shyly, almost five years ago, and then bloomed into a perpetually cheerful, always helpful, ever-nurturing, do-anything-without-being-asked helper. She files mail, checks mail, searches for emergency clothing and hygiene items for neighbors and somehow manages to keep staff going with what we all believe are the best hugs we’ve ever received.
No matter what chaos erupts in our crowded, volume-busting room, Molly is the calm in the center of the storm.
From time to time I like to post little features on our website and social media about our awesome team of volunteers. When I asked Molly if she would be willing to share some personal details about her journey to Trinity Center and her obvious dedication, I had no idea what was coming.
“This place resonates with me because of my personal experience,” she says, initially not sure how much to reveal and then bravely revealing quite a lot. “I see myself in them. At one point, I was so much like them.”
No, she has never been homeless, but like some of our neighbors, Molly has struggled with mental illness. She says she heard voices and saw angels. It was so serious at one point that she was hospitalized. With good medical care, good medicine and a loving family, Molly turned the corner. It has not been easy.
“In the beginning, I was scared the neighbors would see me,” she says. “It took a lot of work, but I made myself do it.”
“The people here are just fantastic — the neighbors, the other volunteers, the staff,” she says. “It’s so fulfilling. I wanted to do something that would be helpful, to give back, and this is the place.”
Molly found us online, liked what she read about Trinity Center and, as often happens in our very small world, her mother Lynne Storm just happened to know Jan Hughes, one of the Center’s earliest supporters. It may have been a timid start for Molly five years ago, but it’s become a bold and joyful experience.
When she isn’t anchoring our Tuesday resource desk, Molly, a native Austinite, works full-time at Breed & Co. (scary title of “hardware associate”). She is also a pastry chef, accomplished artist (painting, ceramics, etc.) and devoted mother of two adorable Corgis, Sam and Winnie.
At Trinity Center, we find inspiration in all kinds of places — with neighbors who remain hopeful and faithful against challenging odds and from volunteers like Molly, who overcome their own demons to help others. We give thanks for all of them, right now we salute the unsinkable Molly Burnette.