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Volunteer Profile: Sherry Heffner & Steve Sozanski

Sherry Heffner and Steve Sozanski
Sherry Heffner and Steve Sozanski

Sherry and Steve have been volunteering for TPR since 1997. In addition to volunteering, Sherry and Steve are avid readers and runners. Sherry enjoys making wreaths, taking Oasis classes, seeing films, doing crossword puzzles (especially acrostics), and taking quizzes on Sploofus. Steve enjoys Sudoku, motorcycling and bicycling.

We asked Sherry and Steve to answer a few questions about themselves and their volunteering experiences with TPR. Sherry responded to our questions.

What is your background?

"I am from the Philadelphia suburbs and landed in San Antonio after a short career in printing, a mid-length stint at the post office, and 20 years active duty in the Navy. I am now the clerk at the Braun Station West Homeowners’ Association, and in my 13th year there. Steve was born and raised in Petaluma, CA, served 27 years in the Air Force Reserves, while managing the parts department of a large cycle center, working various jobs around the world as my dependent, and currently employed as a civilian IT at Lackland AFB. We have no children, just our cat, Bay Leaf."

How long have you been volunteering for TPR?

We have been volunteering for TPR since shortly after arriving here in San Antonio in 1997 and discovering the wonderful programs on 89.1 FM. We love the variety of shows TPR presents and listen at home, at work and in our cars, often experiencing those heralded “driveway moments.” TPR is also our faithful companion as we don our headsets and run the many miles a marathoner racks up every week.

How did you learn about TPR and what prompted you to get involved?

We had never listened to Public Radio before living in San Antonio, but while in Bahrain, my last overseas duty, a friend sent me tapes she’d recorded of "Car Talk," and we got such a charge out of Click and Clack that we were thrilled to discover them on the FM dial here, not to mention all the other shows which quickly became our favorites:  "This American Life," "Wait Wait...Don’t Tell Me!" "Whad’ya Know," "Prairie Home Companion," "Fresh Air," "Diane Rehm," "To the Best of Our Knowledge," "All Things Considered," "Weekend Edition" (especially the Sunday Puzzle!), etc., etc. (And we still miss Marian McPartland!) It was just then a natural jump to volunteer for the Pledge Drive.

For which events have you volunteered with TPR?

Besides the Pledge Drive (which we enjoy working, especially because we get in a race with each other to see which one can bring in more pledges each drive), we are happy to work any kind of event for TPR, mostly the Hands On events where we like promoting the station to attendees, but also any event at all, working the food table, the attendee checklist, the parking lot… you name it!

What do you enjoy most about your volunteer experience?

We couldn’t find a more appreciative organization. Both Toni Murgo and Elisa Gonzales have been a delight to work for, and we also enjoy all the other TPR employees and volunteers alike that we’ve met. The one thing you can be sure of when you attend a TPR event (either as a volunteer or an attendee) is that you automatically have something in common with everyone there:  love of intelligent, insightful, informative and entertaining radio. When we took the TPR trip to Beijing a few years back, it was a really terrific group of like-minded people. A great way to travel!

Is there anything else you'd like to add?  

Besides all I’ve said in my previous answers, I’d like to add that probably 90% of the books I read are ones I have learned about on TPR, through all the various shows I have mentioned already.

Do you have any advice for individuals considering volunteering with TPR?

Do it! We have found that we receive more than we give, that is, the events are so pleasurable that we don’t even consider it volunteering, just more socializing with a great group of people.

Carin Lamontagne joined the Texas Public Radio team in October 2012. She graduated from Southwest Texas State University (now Texas State University) in 1996 with a B.A. in history, and she also studied anthropology and vocal music performance.