indoor photo of white woman with brown hair pulled back from face wearing an orange top

2022 Dean Bolton Volunteer Service Award Recipient

Carly Patel still remembers the first event she volunteered for before her oldest son even began Kindergarten. A neighbor asked her to join her at Hiawatha to help clean up the landscaping at the end of summer. She thought this would be a perfect opportunity to meet some of the parents and her son might meet some new friends while helping get the school ready for the first day back. What she didn't know is that it would confirm that she can't tell the difference between a weed and a plant! But, it would also be the start of 8 years of volunteering in the Okemos Schools.

Volunteer work has always played a big role in her life so she knew when her kids entered school she would be an active parent. She has had the privilege of serving on the PTO boards at both Hiawatha and Kinawa. She also represents Hiawatha on the District Parent Council and has served on district committees. After her younger son started Kindergarten she realized that there was another way she could help the teachers and schools and that was to become a substitute teacher. She has been working as a substitute for 5 years now and although some days are challenging she loves getting to know the students. It is a great feeling to have them call out her name when they’re walking through the hall or run up to give her a hug when she is outside working recess.

The planning and organizing of school events and fundraisers is hard work and can be stressful at times, but she does it because she loves seeing the faces of the students, staff, and families enjoying the result of all the volunteers' hard work. It makes her so happy to see the school community come together to raise money for the school or celebrate the end of another great year. These are some of the best memories of her time in the schools.

On top of volunteering and substituting, she has two boys that keep her busy. Aryan, is in 7th grade at Chippewa and Micah, is in 4th grade at Hiawatha. They love to play sports and are both rock stars at School of Rock. Her husband, Subhash, and she also own and manage rental properties in the area. Her life is crazy most of the time, but she wouldn't have it any other way! She considers herself lucky to be able to give back to the schools and school communities. She sees first hand how hard the teachers and staff are working for the kids and the best way she can say thank you is to give back her time to them. She looks forward to many more years serving the Okemos School District.