Since the beginning of the year I have been volunteering every other Sunday with the Friendship Circle. Friendship Circle is an organization that assists families with children with special needs by involving their children in a full range of social programs. At their Sunday Circle, teenage volunteers, such as me, are assigned to one or two younger children with special needs in order to befriend them and teach them life skills.
It is amazing how a little two hour act of kindness can have such a positive impact on a child. Many of the children who visit Sunday Circle spend their weeks with therapists and adults, so giving them a small amount of play time with other children their age and an older volunteer allows them to learn important social skills and simply have fun. At first, many of the children I worked with were very shy and withdrawn and refused to participate in the activities, but by the end of the session they grew very talkative and happy as they made new friends or learned something new. It is very satisfying to finally see a smile creep across a child’s face or watch them do something independently for the first time. However, every time I visit the Sunday Circle I leave smiling, not only because it feels good to do something for the community, but because I made a new friend.
This is a picture that one of the children insisted I keep. Her favorite things to draw were mushrooms and umbrellas, but she drew a picture of us and I was very flattered.
The day after Christmas, my family and I went to the God’s Love We Deliver headquarters, where we were again greeted nicely by other volunteers like ourselves. However, today the facility was very quiet, meaning they were short handed for today. Thus, we received eight different individuals to deliver to, each with bags containing different food. All these people were located around the West Village. All of them were quite nice and friendly. One ninety-seven year old woman was a sculpter, and she invited us in to view them. They were quite impressive! Many had nurses and caretakers at their homes, who were also very happy to see us. These buildings, for the most part, were old but quite nice as well. A few were especially thankful of us delivering on the day after Christmas. When we told them we delivered on the day before as well, they almost teared up! It was truly a rewarding experience which I would gladly do again.
I worked with God’s Love We deliver for approximately three hours on ChristmasEve, delivering various meals to individuals who need them. When I arrived at the headquarters of this truly special company, I was warmly greeted by jovial employees, dressed in Santa-like costumes. Everyone seemed to be quite happy and jocular. My family and I were then given five bags containing food and another five bags which were entitled “Blizzard Bags”. These contained various toiletries among other things to assist the individuals in need. We then got into our car and drove throughout the Lower East Side. We then went to their apartments, where we were greeted with a huge smile. These people seemed to really appreciate our service. One man even tried to tip us, which we politely declined. The buildings for the most part, were quite dreary, but the people were lovely and caring. Even one man who could only speak French gave us the message that act of delivering the items really warmed his heart. In addition the bags were decorated from our school, which the individuals also enjoyed. This experience really assisted me in the comprehension that these numerous little acts can make a big difference in one’s life.
During the course of this school year, I have been volunteering at an organization called the Children’s Hearing Institute. This company was founded in 1983 with the mission of helping hearing-impaired children regain their hearing, improve their speech and language skills, and achieve academic success. The Children’s Hearing Institute’s most noteworthy achievement is its use of Cochlear Implants. These implants are used to restore sound to those who are unable to hear. The Children’s Hearing Institute has benefited the lives of numerous families over the course of nearly three decades of hard work.
For my volunteer work at the Children’s Hearing Institute, I spend time with hearing-impaired children, all of whom have Cochlear Implants or hearing aids, and work towards improving their speech and listening skills. I also use iPads, equipped with several educational apps, as a way of working with the children. Over the few months I have so far spent volunteering, I found that the kids are more attentive and focused when working with the iPads than when just speaking to them normally. They are fascinated by the fact that, with this technology, they can have fun while their language and hearing abilities are being improved. The apps on the iPads allow the kids to do a range of things, from repeating phrases to reading aloud stories to forming sentences. However, each app is used with the same intention of improving the children’s speech and language skills by having them listen and speak aloud. Overall, I have really enjoyed volunteering at the Children’s Hearing Institute and I look forward to continuing my work there.