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Volunteers essential to Angels Take Flight’s success

Date: 4/24/2014

By Chris Maza

LONGMEADOW – As Angels Take Flight President and Founder Tamara Blake worked during the recent weeks and months to prepare for this weekend’s third annual 5K event, she was grateful to have the help of her Board of Directors.

Cynthia Robelo, Melinda Moreno and Hayes Murray make up the team of volunteers that Blake said has made a world of difference in the preparation of events like the Angels Take Flight 5K – taking place on April 27 at Glenbrook Middle School – and other events that support the work of the organization, which offers luggage, toys and other means of support to children transitioning to foster homes or shelters.

The race registration begins at 8:30 a.m. with runners stepping off at 9:30 and walkers shortly thereafter. New and gently used luggage donations will also be accepted that day.

With April being National Volunteer Month, Blake said she felt it was important to highlight the work performed by her volunteer board, especially because the board members would never seek the spotlight themselves.

“They have done hundreds of hours of work for Angels Take Flight and they really deserve to be honored,” she said. “They’ll probably be horrified when they read this because they are never looking for any recognition for themselves.”

Robelo and Moreno were the original members when Blake decided to create a Board of Directors for her nonprofit in 2012.

Among the efforts that made the two stand out to Blake was their hard work in aiding in the organization with the first Angels Take Flight 5K, which took place at Forest Park. The day before the race, through the frustrations that come with coordinating a first-time event, Robelo and Moreno stayed with Blake into the night until they were forced to leave when the park closed.

“I didn’t feel prepared and didn’t feel like anything was organized and they were there with me making sure everything got done,” she said. “After that, they were there the next morning at 6:30 a.m. to help out again.”

Robelo has been active in the organization since its inception in 2010.

“Whether it was collecting toys, collecting luggage or wrapping presents, she’s been in this since the beginning,” Blake said.

Blake added that in addition to her dedication to the Angels Take Flight mission, Robelo provides some much needed structure. As a program coordinator for an environmental organization by trade, Robelo connects volunteers with coordinators of scientific research projects internationally and that knowledge and skill has proven invaluable.

“We call her the coordinator of chaos,” Blake said. “She is organized, keeps everything under control and she keeps us on track.”

Moreno’s involvement began in 2012 with the first 5K event and she has been “passionate and compassionate about the children we serve” ever since, Blake said, adding that the substance abuse therapist and psychology professor at American International College possesses an unparalleled amount of selflessness.

“After I took a trip to Africa, I got very sick and she was there all summer last summer delivering luggage to agencies for us,” Blake said. “She’s the person who will pick up the phone and say, ‘Don’t worry about anything. I’m taking care of it.’”

Hayes Murray joined the board in September 2013 and since becoming involved, has gone “above and beyond,” not only showing up to events, but advocating publically on behalf of the organization, Blake said.

Working professionally as an audit manager and certified public accountant, Murray has added a new dimension to the nonprofit’s leadership team that Blake said was sorely lacking.

“As an auditor, he has been very helpful,” she said. “Where we admittedly had a bit of disorganization, he has come in and straightened things out.”

Those interested in registering for this year’s 5K may do so by visiting Registration is $30 per person.

For more information on Angels Take Flight, visit