I’ve always volunteered my time in some capacity or other, from my years in high school until now. What motivates me is my desire to make a difference in the lives of others, especially children in struggling communities.
What I give are the talents that I’ve been blessed with — teaching, the ability to encourage others and leadership. Children and adults need and desire compassion, time and someone to inspire them to believe in themselves. The work that I do as a volunteer is satisfying, because when I see the fruit of my volunteerism, in the way that others are impacted, it brings me great joy! That’s all that I need!
I serve as a Board Member of the organization Page Turners Make Great Learners, founded by FeFe Handy. PTMGL strives to increase literacy in schools and organizations that serve struggling students. Traditionally, PTMGL serves schools with Read-a-Thons and by providing opportunities for authors of children’s books to visit and to read to students. The organization also does book drives for underserved communities and schools. Last year, the Board decided that we wanted to provide a summer opportunity that would sustain students’ reading during the summer to alleviate the gap in learning that often occurs with students when not in school. The program lasted for 4 weeks. We met on Tuesdays and Thursdays at the Peachcrest Boys and Girls Club. Our focus was on the book “Fables”: All of the activities were around that book. We brought in a baker who made animal cookies with the kids, provided opportunities for students to create their own book of fables and spent a day at Zoo Atlanta, along with several other activities. The children were provided a well-rounded opportunity to truly understand the book through real world experiences.
Growing up, I watched my mother and her sisters care for their aging grandparents, mother and aunts over the years. Though most people nowadays put their elderly away in nursing homes or in other caretaker facilities, my mother and her sisters never considered this. They all lived into their late 90s and were cared for with love and compassion – and they knew that they were being looked after in that way! It made me understand the importance of caring for others who cannot always care for themselves and that you have to make sacrifices to make a difference in the life of someone else.
People who have a desire to volunteer or work with young children have to understand the great degree of patience that is required. Understanding that consistency with expectations, discipline with love, and setting boundaries, are critical. You CANNOT go into any situation where children are served with preconceived expectations or notions, because children will surprise you in what they know and can do! The best benefit is knowing that somehow you will have impacted the life of a child. Though you may never see that impact and how it’s benefited the child, a volunteer must accept that as the case, understanding that the work is for the betterment of the child in the long run, without personal benefit.
Rising generations will be those who change the current political climate, social/cultural understanding, and acceptance of those who “look, serve God, and think differently” from the way people in this country have traditionally accepted! We have to lead the way in showing them what that looks like. That begins with stepping out of the box of what’s traditionally familiar and comfortable and stretching oneself to make a difference in some capacity or other in the life of another . . . specifically, in the lives of children. We have to plant these seeds early!