Eight Questions with Karina Wiggs, Community Lodgings’ Director of Operations
Karina Wiggs joined Community Lodgings’ staff in November of 1998 – nearly 20 years ago! Find out how Community Lodgings helped Karina find her true passion, and who she wants to be when she grows up.
What attracted you to Community Lodgings?
I needed a job. I was getting my bachelor’s in computer information systems and needed to put my skills into practice. At the time I was doing some IT (information technology) training with someone and I asked him if he knew of a job for me. He mentioned Community Lodgings, and the rest is history.
Do you remember your first interview? What was it like?
I interviewed with the executive director at the time, Terry McCarthy. I will never forget him. He was very funny and playful. Terry gave me the opportunity, although I didn’t have all the skills necessary for the job. He said he would train me. He was very welcoming and nice, and told me I had the job immediately.
What was your first Community Lodgings job?
I was hired to be the volunteer coordinator. That meant, in addition to my IT skills, I had to do outreach, meet with organizations, and recruit volunteers. It was challenging for me, but Terry and some of the staff were helpful. (Editor’s note: Karina is a total introvert. I can’t even imagine her doing this).
What other jobs have you held?
After starting as the volunteer coordinator, I became the bookkeeper, administrative assistant, executive assistant, housing counselor, and finally the director of operations, which I started in 2005.
Why have you stayed with Community Lodgings for so long?
It’s very rewarding. I’ve learned so much with every job I’ve held. I know I’m making a difference, even though I’m not on the front lines and I prefer to work behind the scenes. This job is not about taking home a paycheck. It’s about helping someone.
Why do you think Community Lodgings has operated for 30 years?
Their work is unique. They serve families, single mothers, and the community as a whole. That’s what makes us different.
What has your involvement w/Community Lodgings done for you?
It has helped me find my true passion, which is caring for, serving, and helping people. It changed my whole perspective. And, I’ve passed that passion onto my children. Now, my approach is to always ask, “What can I do?” and my kids think the same way.
I know now that if we all work together and do something, even something little, it may mean a lot for someone else. I’m just trying to make a difference. That’s what really matters. When I leave this world, I want to feel like I did something worthwhile.
Who is your favorite Community Lodgings person and why?
Helen Lewis (one of Community Lodgings’ founders, past executive director and a current, long-term board member). Helen is everything I want to be when I grow up. Her dedication and commitment to Community Lodgings has inspired me tremendously. She was a board member when I first started working here. From day one she put her trust in me. She has been my mentor and I have learned so much from her. We developed a professional relationship and a friendship. I love Helen.