Go Giver – Natalie Schoof

Go Giver – Natalie Schoof
“I’m so blessed because I’ve had a family that cares for others…I know I learned volunteering early from my family.” – Natalie Schoof

Volunteering was nurtured in Natalie Schoof’s soul from an early age.

“I’m so blessed because I’ve had a family that cares for others…my sister Aimee, a film producer in California, started a yoga program for homeless shelters entirely taught by volunteer yoga instructors she recruited,” said Schoof. “My mom, Stephanie, was the world’s greatest ‘band mom’ for me when I was at Wolfson. She helps neighbors, cooks for the sick and drives people to doctor appointments. My dad spent every Friday night making curly fries at the band concession stand for years. I know I learned volunteering early from my family.”

Schoof, now a Riverside resident, has taught school for nine years, first at Alfred I. Dupont Middle School and currently as an English teacher at La Villa School of the Arts. Although she graduated from Wolfson High School and attended Florida State University, she completed college at the University of Oregon (non-profit management degree). She was living in Oregon when a family emergency brought her home.

“I moved back to Jacksonville to help care for my father, Carl Schoof, who was diagnosed with cancer in 2004. It was a shock to us all because he was so physically fit and a runner…completely unexpected,” she said.

Schoof had always been attracted to the Riverside and 5 Points area and had many friends living there. Moving to Riverside, where she loves the character of the old homes, was wonderful but she had difficulty finding a fulltime job in arts administration. She was first a volunteer, then briefly worked part-time for Riverside Fine Arts.

“I decided to go into teaching. I also began to volunteer with Riverkeeper’s young professionals group. I had volunteered in college for HabiJax and over the years for various arts organizations,” she said. “Then in 2010 I met Kristin Keen, founder of the charity Rethreaded at River City Church. At that time she had returned from an extended trip to India where she was inspired by efforts to end exploitation of women and children caught up in the sex trade (prostitution, human trafficking). Keen wanted to find a way to create work for those seeking to change their lives, who had difficulty finding jobs.”

Schoof’s experience of losing her father unexpectedly to cancer gave her a deep understanding of how events and circumstances can impact and change a person’s life. She was deeply affected by the plight of those caught up or trapped in the global sex trade because of poverty, coercion or human trafficking.

Schoof volunteered to help Keen by exploring the concept for a charity that could provide work for such women. She helped with possible names, creating a website, writing informational material and brain-storming marketing ideas. Schoof wants to continue volunteering to help local women heal and build better lives through meaningful work.

By Julie Kerns Garmendia
Resident Community News

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