ICS Volunteer Profile – Bo Keppel

Don’t ask Bo Keppel to go out on a Thursday night. And Thanksgiving Dinner for her family and friends is early in the day. Bo is committed to volunteering at Interfaith Community Shelter’s registration desk on Thursday nights and she doesn’t want to miss. It’s important to her.

Bo’s career is in education. With degrees in special education, she has taught students from pre-school to community colleges to universities to prisons in various cities and states in the East. Later she taught teachers how to be better teachers. And she often volunteered or helped in some capacity with the homeless.

Bo was a frequent visitor to Santa Fe and loved the city and its people. In 2008 when it was time to retire (although retirement is a state that Bo really doesn’t know), she took a position through Americorps and was funded by the National Aids Fund. She worked at the New Mexico Department of Health as an infectious disease prevention specialist. With her vast teaching experience, Bo found the work rewarding and believed she positively impacted those she helped. One of the sites she worked was the ICS shelter in its early days at another location. And she has been with ICS as a volunteer ever since.

On Thursday’s Bo comes in the early evening to check guests in. She enters the required information into the computer database that has been developed for ICS. Before guests are admitted for registration, the team leader meets with the volunteers. The group reviews the Three C’s in dealing with guests: Consistency. Communication. Confidentiality. Be consistent with the guests and treat them equally. Communicate with the team and team leader. A guest’s information and story is confidential – what’s heard at Pete’s Place, stays at Pete’s Place.

For Bo, the “Fourth C” is Courtesy – but remembering that is not difficult for her. “The people who are homeless have taught me,” Bo said. “I am in awe of their human spirit, their resilience. I admire their ability to face obstacles every day.” Treating people with respect is the only way she knows.

There are other organizations in Santa Fe that benefit from Bo’s volunteering spirit. As a matter of fact, the title on her business card is “Volunteer Extraordinaire” – remember, she doesn’t do retirement. Yet, ICS doesn’t need to worry about “losing” Bo. If it’s Thursday night, she’s at Pete’s Place.