Disaster Kleenup Specialists CEO, Theresa Ream, talks with Aimee Cuda about her life and her work with ITN Monterey County.
Aimee Cuda is the Executive Director of ITN Monterey County a nonprofit that provides dignified transportation to seniors and the visually impaired on the Monterey Peninsula. ITN focuses on helping families of our communities’ senior citizens. They do this by creating mobility and independence for our seniors while minimizing the burden of adult children having to take off work to drive their parents to appointments and miss work.
Let’s get to know Aimee a little better.
Aimee is a self- proclaimed Military brat, settling in Monterey County so she could be close to her family. Aimee worked for the City of Monterey for a time and then took over the Development Associate position for The York School. She attended Fundraising School at the University of Indiana in 2005 through the Community Foundation. Aimee holds a degree in Human Services/ Management from the University of Phoenix which she earned in 2014. She is currently the Director of ITN.
Aimee has fond memories of her grandmother who she cared for until the end of her life after being diagnosed with skin cancer. That’s what sparked her interest in transportation for seniors. After her Grandmother had come to live with her, it proved difficult to arrange times to take her to appointments. Her Grandmother was a big influence in her life that told fabulous stories from when she was little in Oklahoma and Kansas. She was a very strong woman who cared for her first husband after he suffered PTSD after during World War ll. She cared for him and raised three children while working at the post office. Aimee’s grandmother had such a great influence on her life that she wanted to help other senior citizens with similar needs.
What do you want our community to know about ITN?
Drivers needed!! We really need more Volunteer drivers. You can go on our website and download an application. Aimee knows that sometimes filling out applications can be intimidating. Sometimes people read the application and think well I don’t have the right car or maybe I don’t have very much time. She wants applicants to know that yes some seniors can get into SUV’s or even Smart Cars, the type of car you drive doesn’t always matter. The time you donate to drive does not have to be lengthy. Some drivers can work longer hours and some are very short, maybe 20 minutes a week to drive someone to an appointment. People really don’t realize how enjoyable it actually can be to spend time with our seniors! Some are so kind and grateful. Most are very gracious. They have fascinating stories, and I am so amazed at what they have done in their lives. It’s like stepping into another world at times.
What is the best advice someone has ever given you?
Well, my Grandfather said, if you only shoot for half way you are only going to make it half way, always shoot for the top and you might make it to the top! Give it your best shot and see what happens. You will make it
What is the biggest “ah ha” you’ve had regarding the work you do?
I had a wonderful woman in my life named Kipra Heerman, she really believed in me and sent me to the University of Indiana Fundraising School at the Community Foundation. She said some people are afraid to ask for donations and when you don’t ask you don’t get. People are going to give to a cause they may as well give it to your nonprofit, just ask!
What does your perfect business model look like for you?
It’s all about the employees; they are the ones that take care of your customers. You need to take good care of your employees, then they help your customers. I really think about their personal growth, I try to find out what their personal goals are. People have priorities outside of work, like family and personal commitments. Dispatchers can work from home and can take care of her kids. I like to allow them to work outside the office. Things can get done outside these office walls too. I encourage them to take classes and be able to fulfill their dreams. I see their potential and want to nurture that.
Regarding your morning routine, if you had two uninterrupted hours each morning what three or four tasks would you do to start your day?
I would like to walk in the morning, alone to be able to think and clear my head. I would love to do yoga and breathing exercises. I would love to go back to school and get a Master in Social Work. I would love to be a family therapist, and it would be heavenly to eat breakfast at the table with my family each morning
What book changed your life?
I loved the book by James Collins Good to Great. It’s about getting the right people on the right seats on the bus. Now I realize people’s strengths before they do. It really changed my work perspective. It motivated me to try to change things in my work life as a manager. Good to Great was read and studied by the Board at York School. It was amazing how they took this book and really used it for the good of those they served. Roots by Alex Haley was another book that changed my perspective. I really did not know or understand what African Americans had gone through, it really spoke to me on a personal level. It never occurred to me that pain like that existed that time. It made me think I would never want to hurt a human being on purpose. I think it sparked my desire to do the kind of work I do in humanitarian efforts and the social welfare.
What do you love about your life?
My children, I have a twelve-year-old son, my twenty-year-old daughter and eight month old grandson. My kids are complete opposites of each other, my son and his enthusiastic energy makes my day. I am so proud of my Daughter, she married young and is a single mom now. She works so hard and takes care of her son, she is really rocking it!
What is your self-improvement formula?
Don’t stress and worry about things, move past the problems, my personal faith is something I fall back on daily. Let go and breathe through the process.
Who is the one person outside of your family that has had the biggest impact on you?
Jill Sheffield, she sent me to LEAD and encouraged me while I finished my degree through The University of Phoenix. Jill believed in me and had a huge influence on my life
What would you change about yourself?
I would stop worrying and accept myself the way I am
If you didn’t know what fear was what would be the first thing you would do?
Jump out of an airplane. No, really, I will someday! And Rock climbing, I love to be outside and being up high.
If you could instantly take on a quality or trait what would it be?
I would be more disciplined in taking care of myself. I love to take care of others and sometimes forget about my own needs
What will your legacy be?
I want people to say that I was strong and persevered to take care of others. That I was a true humanitarian and really made a difference
You can Reach Aimee at:
ITN Monterey County
PO Box 2121 Seaside, Ca. 93955
831-233-3447, mobile 831-206-7303