Rachel Stanley’s parents must have done something right. Actually, I’ve met her parents, and can attest that they did several things right. In today’s society where the loudest 20-something usually wins, it is tremendously refreshing to share a cup of coffee and intelligent conversation with such a poised and quietly determined young woman. From the moment you sit down, you want to be her friend.
Within the first five minutes, you are.
Rachel is the first to admit that she never thought she’d be the one in her family to end up in Charleston. After college, she backpacked through Europe, considered graduate school, and landed in a temporary retail position in the city she’d grown up in.
“I’ve always been a big believer that things pan out how they’re supposed to,” she says.
For Rachel, things were supposed to lead her to Operation Home, a local non-profit dedicated to keeping low-income individuals in their homes through repairs and increased accessibility and safety.
“We built 31 wheelchair ramps last year. This year our goal is 60,” explains Rachel. “We give people the opportunity to age in place.”
She explains that, for many of the people the group helps, their home is their greatest possession. Sometimes their only one. They may not have photo albums, journals, picture frames. The house holds their memories.
Her passion is palpable when she talks about the community she works with and the progress the foundation has made. It is evident that Rachel is a composed and calm individual, but something magicical happens when she really gets going about her career path. “I just really love my job,” she gushes.
She’s been with Operation Home since it’s early days, as a volunteer in college and then as their second official employee beginning in 2009.
“I’ve grown up with this job,” she admits.
When asked when she knew she wanted to work for a non-profit, she simply smiles and says, “I always wanted to do something to give back.”
She finds that the hardest part of the job is saying “no;” not being able to help everyone. But while she can’t help everyone, those she has have helped her.
“This job definitely puts things in perspective. I’m so appreciative of everything in my life. All we have is today.”
Words by: Carter Worrell Dandridge
Photography by: Mark Stetler
Hair and makeup by: Stella Nova Flagship