Amazing. That’s the best word to describe Kellen Sweny’s volunteerism and service to the city.
“It’s just about being a blessing to others,” said Sweny, who joined the Houston Health Department as a vital statistics registrar in 2016. “Volunteering is one of my favorite things to do.”
Since 2014, Sweny has helped with donation drives of essential care items for women living in local domestic abuse or homeless shelters through Movers for Moms, an annual donation campaign sponsored by Two Men and A Truck moving company.
“A lot of women don’t know how or don’t have the resources,” she said. “It’s a huge honor to help people in those situations that are looking for a fresh start.”
An active member of Crosspoint Church in Pasadena, Sweny helps run small groups in the middle school youth program.
“I lead a group of about eight to 10 girls,” Sweny said. “We talk about the week’s sermon, how it applies to their life and how they can use it in real life.”
On Sunday evenings, Sweny and her husband open their home to young married couples with small children for Bible study. Sweeny also supports other nonprofit organizations through her church including a pregnancy center, a children’s home in Guatemala and various ministries throughout the year.
“I feel very privileged with the life that I have been blessed with,” Sweny said. “I have a responsibility and the ability to give back.”
Most recently, Sweny has volunteered with Lunches of Love, a nonprofit organization that provides free meals and snacks to schoolchildren in Fort Bend County.
“We put together food for students enrolled in reduced-cost meal programs to take home over the weekend,” Sweney said. Otherwise, some of those children might be at risk of not having enough to eat over weekends and extended holidays.
When Sweny is not collecting donations, volunteering at her church, or supporting other nonprofits, you can find her helping residents with their birth and death certificate requests at the city’s Health Department.
“As the registrar, she has the responsibility of leading the entire bureau of vital statistics,” said Benjamin Hernandez, assistant director of HHD. “But when she is needed you will find her working a customer service counter to relieve her team members as they go to lunch.”
Sweny also supports her team through weekly employee engagement activities. From office Olympics to a weekly champ or funny quizzes about current events, she provides incentives for her team to be recognized.
“My team is very customer facing and we have to be on our feet and get these customers in and out,” Sweny said. “To me, that starts with a really good team dynamic.”
“Kellen is just that kind of leader,” Hernandez said.
Sweny’s passion for service, through her volunteerism and role with the city, has helped her recognize the benefits of helping others.
“When I started volunteering, I always thought it was about the other person,” she said. “But that’s not where the story ends.
“There’s so much that I have learned about myself and the world around me from being able to volunteer,” she said. “Every time I go out into the community I meet amazing people.”