Two Duke employees volunteer annually at the Durham Rescue Mission, one of the city’s oldest and largest long-term homeless shelters.
One employee helps Durham Rescue Mission clients file their taxes. The other brings lively holiday music to the mission’s auditorium.
Kim Burrucker with Duke School of Law and Rodney Wynkoop with the Duke Music Department are recipients of the 2018 Duke Employee Service Award. The annual award is given to a Duke University or Duke University Health System employee who has performed outstanding volunteer service in the Durham community, and the staff or faculty member must be nominated by the nonprofit or school for which they volunteer.
David Cash, volunteer and donor relations coordinator with the Durham Rescue Mission, nominated both employees for the award.
Because the Durham Rescue Mission nominated the recipients, the nonprofit will receive a $200 contribution in the award recipients’ names from the Duke-Durham Neighborhood Partnership, which is part of the Duke Office of Durham and Regional Affairs.
“I am so pleased to witness each year the generous way our Duke University and Duke University Health System employees give back to the community,” said Sam Miglarese, director of the Duke-Durham Neighborhood Partnership. “We are proud of Kim and Rodney and delighted to celebrate their service.”
Learn more about the award recipients:
Director of the Office of Public Interest & Pro Bono, Duke School of Law
Adviser, Duke Law Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA)
A lot of work goes into Duke Law VITA’s tax preparation visits. The Duke Law student volunteers receive about 12 hours of training on tax law to become Internal Revenue Service (IRS)-certified and practice filling out tax returns. During this training, students also learn how to prepare taxes for non-U.S. residents.
“We don’t just do their taxes,” Burrucker said about meeting with Durham Rescue Mission clients. “We do follow-up. … I’m going to be sending an email to everyone whose tax returns we did this year, linking them to the IRS website to see how new tax codes are going to affect them.”
This year, Duke Law VITA helped about 40 individuals at the Durham Rescue Mission file their taxes. Sometimes the Duke Law students wearing Duke blue and clients who walk in wearing University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s colors politely tease each other. “We bring a lot of humor into (our visit),” Burrucker added.
“Kim and her group of tax preparers always demonstrate an attitude of care, patience and dignity when working with each person,” Cash wrote in the nomination form. “…It always results in men and women leaving with a sense of value and self-worth.”
Music director, Duke University Chorale
Professor of the practice of music, Duke Music Department
Wynkoop and his 50-member chorale have sung carols at the Durham Rescue Mission for more than 20 years.
The holiday tradition began when Wynkoop asked the Durham Rescue Mission if the Duke University Chorale could put on a concert. Every December, the auditorium at the mission’s East Main Street location is packed with men, women and children as the chorale sings traditional carols such as “Joy to the World” and “Silent Night,” as well as modern arrangements of holiday music.
“It is the most meaningful caroling that we do because it’s so obvious that these people are deeply moved by music and by the season, and they are not shy about saying so,” Wynkoop said. “It is so deeply meaningful to be there every year.”
The Durham Rescue Mission audience tends to whistle, cheer and sing along with the chorale. Wynkoop, while wearing an electronic, swaying Santa hat on his head, hands children in the auditorium sleigh bells to play.
“There are many audiences that Rodney and the Duke Chorale could sing for,” Cash wrote in the nomination form. “But they always make the people at the Durham Rescue Mission feel as though we are their only audience.”