Favorite Volunteering Moment

9 Nov

So what has been everyone’s favorite moment of volunteering since beginning our fellowship?

I’ll go first. Mine was this past Thursday when Thary and I took the kids from the after-school program at the Salvation Army to Wal-mart to buy winter clothes as part of Operation Bundle-Up. They were all so excited to see us and so happy that we were taking them to get new clothes. It really warmed my heart when we pulled up in the car and they were all waving and screaming our names. It felt great, and it really helped me to see that we ARE making an impact in these kids’ lives.

So tell me, what has been YOUR favorite moment so far?

-Alex

Cookie Monster’s Birthday

2 Nov

Today is Cookie Monster’s Birthday and in honor of him we are decorating cookies at the LeMoyne. All of the children are going to love this activity.

C IS FOR COOKIE IT’S GOOD ENOUGH FOR ME…COOKIE COOKIE COOKIE STARTS WITH C!!!

Gratification

2 Nov

Growing up my parents were not huge advocates of volunteering. They wanted me to focus on my own problems and not commit to much time to the problems of others. They had also had some bad experiences volunteering and did not want me to have similar experiences. In high school, I made sure I completed hours so that I would be eligible for National Honors Society and to impress colleges. None of my volunteer work was that meaningful or made much of a difference in the world. I would volunteer for my school’s open house or to usher at a concert.

Then I decided to get a job during the summer working at a YMCA camp for children with emotional and physical challenges. This quickly transformed from a job to a passion. I had honestly never done a task so rewarding in my entire life. For the first time, I felt I actually might be making a difference in another person’s life; I felt like I mattered and was contributing to society. The children were a challenge to work with, but I found myself enjoying every minute of it.

As I headed off towards college I was determined to continue to work with children or young adults. This time I wanted to volunteer because I enjoyed volunteering and being a child’s support system.

As I have worked in the AmeriCorps programs at Washington Park Elementary, America Reads, and at the Lemoyne Center I have slowly developed better skills in regards to building relationships and bonds with kids. This experience will allow me to adapt well to any environment I will be presented if I choose to pursue the path of being a teacher. Although the children usually do not show any form of gratification or thanks, when they give me a smile, tell me to have a nice day, or give me hug, it makes all of the months and hours of time, commitment, and work worth while.

From Obligation to Passion

1 Nov

I enjoyed volunteering growing up, I guess. My parents instilled a healthy respect for philanthropy in my sisters and me from a young age. It was something you just did, like brushing your teeth or finishing your homework. But it was a chore, an obligation that needed to be fulfilled before you could go have fun.

Things changed when I turned 16. I began to feel the need to give back. I had too many blessings in my own life and I felt the desire to “pay it forward.” I began to volunteer at a women’s shelter in my home town and it changed my life. It was a much needed reality check. Like a bucket of ice water, this experience woke me up and opened my eyes. It made me want to do more.

The summer before my senior year I traveled to the Dominican Republic. Our goal was to teach children English and to build a playground at the school where we were working. I felt like I gained so much from that experience. It opened my eyes even more and helped me start to think about volunteering on a global scale. It made me realize that there is always something more that you can do to help.

By the time I graduated high school, volunteering had become a huge part of my life. The summer before I came to college was my busiest yet, I was volunteering almost 40 hours a week on top of having a full time job. I loved every minute of it. Then I came to college. Classes began and I joined a few clubs, made some friends, and got involved. I soon realized, however, that something was missing. I MISSED volunteering. I missed how it felt to know I was helping someone else, even in a small way. That’s when I applied to become an Americorps Fellow. I was thrilled when I got accepted, but also slightly wary because I knew the program’s primary goal was working with at-risk youth. I worried that I would have a hard time working with kids, since the primary focus of volunteering had been with women and young adults in the past. So I was a little concerned.

That concern is all gone today. President’s Prep has started up at Washington High School and today we had a few students come in for help. Talking with them and helping them with their work was great. I actually felt like I was making a difference. I was helping one boy complete an English paper and he told me that he was “dumb.” I asked him why he thought that, and he told me that everyone said he was dumb – his mom, her boyfriend, his 5 siblings, his friends, etc. I just felt awful. How is this boy supposed to want to go to school and get an education if everyone was telling him that he would fail? I asked him what his favorite class was. He hesitated and didn’t want to tell me, but I kept pushing. “Math,” he said. “If I could do anything I’d want to teach kids like me math and make them feel smart. I only ever feel smart in math class.” It made me so sad and so proud all at once. I talked to him for a little while more about his goals and the future and then made him promise to come back and see me for more help after school the next week. I hope I can make a difference for him. Maybe one day he will be teaching math and he will KNOW that he is not dumb. For me, that’s the type of difference I hope I can make in this program.

-Alex

It’s November at the LeMoyne

31 Oct

We have finished our first month of programming at the LeMoyne Center. Overall, we are really happy with the program. With any new program there is a learning curve and we are working to make adjustments as needed.

This week the youth will learn about
– The Day of the Dead – Hispanic Holiday
– Sportsmanship
– Cookie Monster’s Birthday
– National Sandwich Day
– King Tut and Mummification

Check back for photos and comments!!

Pasta Pasta Pasta!

26 Oct

In celebration of World Pasta Day the students learned about different types of pasta and the older children worked together to create Pasta Art. The little kids colored spaghetti coloring sheets and made pasta necklaces. We brought Italy to the LeMoyne!!

New Zealand Wins!

25 Oct

On Monday at the LeMoyne the students learned about United Nations Day. In honor of this day we planned a LeMoyne Center Olympics. The students broke up into 4 teams– New Zealand, USA, China and South Africa and competed in a series of “Olympic” events, which included, crab walking, wheel barrowing, hula-hooping, hurdling, sprinting, bear crawling and more! The teams had a blast and got along great!! Congrats to New Zealand on their win!!

More Photo Fun!

24 Oct

Week 4 at the LeMoyne

24 Oct

Today begins Week 4 for the Homework and More Program and we are looking forward to learning about the following:

Monday- United Nations Day
Tuesday- Learning about Personality through Pasta
Wednesday- Domestic Violence Awareness– Cyberbullying
Thursday- Navy Day– Understanding Sailboats
Friday- Happy Halloween Birthday Party

Check back for all the FUN details!!!

Inspirational…

24 Oct

Volunteering at the LeMoyne has inspired an already burning desire to create my own community Outreach Center for students back in my hometown. Every time I help a student I get this feeling of accomplishment that runs through my body. I have enjoyed every moment of volunteer time spent at the LeMoyne Center. The students there are smart and have lots of talent, just haven’t found it yet. That’s what we’re there for!