A week ago, I spent an hour with some amazing kids at Virginia Gardens, a housing community in Arlington for primarily low-income families,thanks to an amazing organization I volunteer with called the Reading Connection. The Reading Connection is a local nonprofit organization dedicated to improving the lives of at-risk children and families by helping them create and sustain literacy-rich environments and motivation for reading.
I volunteer with it once month for just one hour. Each member of our team is assigned a specific task. This past week, my task was to bring the snack. When I walked into the room, I could see the kids eyes light up because in my hands I had goldfish snacks and lemonade. They were so excited that a few of the kids even offered to help me.
When it came time for our read aloud, we broke out into groups. One of the girls, Kimberly, asked if I would read with her. I was thrilled. We read a book together, and by the end, she was pronouncing words like “delicious” and “memorable”.
When it was time to go, a couple of the girls gave us big hugs and thanked us. I loved every moment of the hour and here’s why:
- I was sharing something that I love with someone else. I love books. I love everything about them-from the smell of the paper to the excitement I experience when turning the pages to find out what happens next. And, through the Reading Connection, I am able to share these things with someone much younger than me.
- I was sharing something more than my professional expertise. When I was younger, I would sit on a number of gala committees. I loved the contributions that I made through these experiences, but this is different. I am not wearing a professional hat. I am just being a friend spending time with another friend.
- I was having fun. This is so important. As an individual, there are so many ways you can volunteer, but the key thing is to love what you are doing, and playing with kids and reading to them is something I simply enjoy.
What about you? What types of volunteer opportunities do you do and why?