A Gallatin native with longtime ties to Wilson County recently took the lead position at the Wilson County Community Help Center with the goal of bringing more revenue, awareness and extended services to the center.
Karen Rudzinski started her position as executive director last month and has worked quickly to establish relationships and become familiar with the center, which was created in 1988 to provide food, clothing, household necessities and financial assistance to people in need in Wilson County.
Rudzinski, who has more than 25 years of experience in non-profit organizations, said she received motivation from people to seek the position after briefly switching her career to insurance sales.
“I had a couple of people reach out to me when this position came available,” she said. “I sat on it for a little while and decided they were right and I should. I was working in Hermitage at the time and wanted to be back in Wilson County.”
Rudzinski, a Western Kentucky University graduate, has experience with non-profit organizations that include American Cancer Society, Leukemia Lymphoma Society and the Mt. Juliet Chamber of Commerce. She was also the first executive director of Charis Health Center in Mt. Juliet.
She got her start in the nonprofit sector after an internship with the Big Brothers Big Sisters organization while she was in college.
“That just kind of led into me wanting to work for nonprofits. Before that, I always thought I wanted to work on healthcare,” she said.
Rudzinski said the last month has been filled with meetings and appointments to familiarize herself with the organization, as well as introduce herself to center partners.
She highlighted a few goals she hopes to accomplish for the center.
“I want us to be fully funded. I’d love to see us grow to about a million-dollar organization. We’re at about half a million now. It won’t happen overnight, but I’d love to see that,” said Rudzinski, who said she also hopes to raise awareness about the center and its resources available to all Wilson County residents.
“We’re trying to get as much information out there as possible. We want this to be a household name. We want people to know about the Wilson County Community Help Center and the programs and services we provide,” she said.
Wilson County Community Help Center board director Tim Leeper said he believed Rudzinski’s history shows what she could accomplish in her new role. Rudzinski has been involved in all aspects of non-profit management, including staffing, development, human resources, budgeting, reporting, volunteer management and grant writing.
“We also thought that because she was from Wilson County and knew a lot of people and had a lot of relationships, that she would fit right in coming back to the nonprofit world,” Leeper said.
The Wilson County Community Help Center is selling ducks for its annual Ducky Derby event, which is scheduled for May 1.
For more information about the Duck Derby or the help center, go to wilsoncountyhelpcenter.org.