Helping Michigan's Most Vulnerable

Friday Feature: Michele Watkins

Your name: Michele Watkins

Your role at Volunteers of America Michigan: Vice President of Housing

What brought you to this position? I have been in property management for over 25 years now. My mentor told me [years ago] I had a heart for the position and she was right. I stepped into the role and I have been doing it ever since. I retired from my previous position in 2012 and spent a lot of time doing charity work and traveling. One day, I got a phone call from a former colleague, Karlynne Tucker-Scaggs and she said, “You don’t want to be retired.” I replied with, “Yes, I do. I love it very much.” Then Karlynne told me she had an opportunity that seemed like the perfect fit for me. I had expressed my feelings of not wanting to get back into the office and back into the stress of daily operations. Once she explained the mission of Volunteers of America Michigan and I met our CEO, Alex Brodrick, I knew Karlynne was right. So I came out of retirement and I have not once regretted my decision.

What is your biggest takeaway from this position? I love working with people. I love seeing that we can make a difference in people’s lives, but also I get to see the difference that they make in my life. There are opportunities for me to see things from someone else’s perspective, and walk in their shoes.

What is your biggest challenge in this position? Not knowing what to expect.

Where is your dream vacation spot? A warm island! Costa Rica and Fiji are on my bucket list.

What is your favorite book? I read scripture every morning. Currently I am reading ‘A is for Attitude’ by Patricia Russell-McCloud and I am loving it!

How do you spend your time outside of the office? I spend a lot of time with my family. I have been with my husband for 23 years. Between the two of us, we have ten children. We started fostering around 2000, and since then have fostered and adopted six girls. At this time, all of our kids are older and out of the house, so my husband and I are enjoying this phase of our lives.

I have volunteered as a girl’s cross country and track coach at a Detroit high school for the last ten years. I ran the Detroit Marathon at the age of 16 and went to LSU on a track scholarship, so running has been a big part of my life. I also co-founded a non-profit track club called ‘New Breed Track Club’ in 2009. I have great relationships with my students.