Claire Guy Powell
A Living Legacy of Giving Back
Sitting across from Claire Guy Powell, she radiates energy and passion she has for the work she does. With a sunny disposition that infuses joy and pride into her work, it’s no small wonder that she has found her calling in non-profits, working to improve the community around us.
In her second year as Events Specialist at CAPS (Child And Parents Services) in Elkhart, IN, her drive has only increased in her love for her work.
“The reason I love what I do at CAPS is that I am able to help plan all of these events that help raise money to keep the programs that we have there for kids and families to be able to use,” Claire says. “It makes my heart feel warm to know that what I’m doing is making a difference. I’ve always wanted that. I didn’t know that this was on the path my mom was on. It was almost like an epiphany where I realized this is where I need to be.”
Growing Up Giving Back
With her parents as role models, her mother being Laura Guy, Corporate Events Director for the American Heart Association in the South Bend/Elkhart region, and her father involved in the community as well as working prominently within the local news broadcasting field, community involvement was instilled in her from a young age. Now, as her parents relocate, she takes over the helm of the legacy her family has prepared her to steer.
Coming to the area as a fifth grader from Decatur, IL, on the heels of 9/11, Claire saw her mother’s work with Hannah’s House, a local charitable organization in Mishawaka that provides a safe home, support, and programs to help pregnant women. Around the time she started high school, she began to volunteer there herself, helping babysit so the mothers could take classes and other things that needed done for the organization.
“My biggest thing is that I love kids so much. It’s where the volunteering started for me at such a young age,” Claire says of her experience at Hannah’s House.
Next came getting involved with the American Heart Association, which led her to her work with CAPS.
“After the first time I helped with an event, I helped with every single event I was at, and I enjoyed it and loved it. I loved being a part of something that raises money for a great cause. There’s nothing more fulfilling than to be a part of that process,” Claire says.
Having originally attended IU South Bend for Mass Communications, with a concentration on Journalism, she realized that her calling was in non-profit work. After deciding against transferring to another school after the first two years and remaining in the South Bend community, she continued to make connections and lay down roots in the area. Claire found herself poised for an opportunity that came quickly after graduating: Events Specialist for CAPS.
“I was volunteering at the American Heart Association, which is where I crossed paths with CAPS,” Claire says.
Community Involvement as a Priority
Even after accepting the position with CAPS, “I stayed involved with the American Heart Association, being on their committee and helping with their volunteers, and anything possible for their fundraising events,” Claire says.
She has also recently joined the Junior League of South Bend, to help bridge her connection of living in St. Joseph County but working with CAPS in Elkhart County. Making a difference in her community is a priority.
“I’ve noticed that both communities—the counties of St. Joe County and Elkhart County—come together one way or another. They cross paths with helping each other and it’s great, I love it,” she says. “The amazing thing with events and non-profits is that we all sort of work together and volunteer for each other, or just being there to support one another. I see that a lot and it’s a wonderful thing.”
In regards to the events that she puts together at CAPS, her passion shines through when speaking about each one.
“We just recently had our Superhero 5k in the spring. That’s a great event that we have for people to learn about CAPS, an outreach event. It’s great for families, friends, coworkers, and even our clients at CAPS to all come together for a fun day as a superhero, dress up, and run. A lot of work, but so much fun,” Claire says.
With CAPS, there is always something happening to plan, and the next big event in the fall on November 11, their Vines, Steins and Stills event. The event features tastings as well as a silent, live auction.
“It’s one of our biggest fundraising events of the year,” she says of the upcoming event.
Claire also spoke about CAPS adopt-a-family program for the holidays entitled Heart of the Holidays. Families provide a list of four items each—a want, a need, a wear, and a read.
“Our donors will go and shop for the families,” Claire says. “I’m part of organizing that with our development staff. It’s a great team!”
“Get Involved and Give Back Where You Live”
“I chose to stay [in the South Bend area] because I’ve learned from my parents how important it is to network in the community and to help one another. I felt that, considering I realized I wanted to go into nonprofit, it helped me build relationships in the community by staying here and going to school. I felt it would help me with my career someday. I just felt it was very important to get involved and give back where you live,” she says.
Leaving crossed her mind, as it does with many teenagers and young adults maturing in their hometowns. A love of community and giving back rooted her here.
“I love it here, and I want to make a difference in my hometown, especially now since my parents are leaving, and my in-laws are leaving. My husband and I are going into that together. Hopefully our kids someday do the same thing,” Claire says.