>And the award goes to…
Ever wonder why we recruit volunteers? Well, our programs wouldn’t be as successful as they are if we didn’t have the support of those individuals who volunteer.
As the Volunteer Coordinator, and with the support of United Way of King County and Volunteer Match, I have been able to connect with individuals who want to support our cause. We’ve also had students from University of Washington Bothell who eagerly bring their knowledge and experience to share with our participants and staff. There are those who just want to come in and support their community by offering their time. We have a variety of volunteers all from different ages, ethnicities and backgrounds, and they all become an essential part of our programs.
Our Play & Learn groups, English Classes, Children’s Program, and Afterschool Connections groups can only be run with the support of these people, who week by week offer their time out of their busy lives without asking for anything in return. They teach, they read, they play, they tutor, they mentor, they clean, they do whatever it takes to make our programs happen!
In the past a “Volunteer of the Year” was chosen but as of our Fall Quarter we have decided to change it from yearly to quarterly. And obviously only of them will get to be the “Volunteer of the Fall Quarter”, but how could you choose one out of all these great hardworking people? It is indeed a tough job! When I asked the facilitators to decide who we should give this award to, they couldn’t make that choice because they all had positive feedback about each one of their volunteers. That’s fantastic, I thought, but what am I going to do? I have to decide, right?
Before we tell you our decision, I am going to let some of the volunteers share with you their experiences here at the center, so you can learn more about them and the work they do here.
Meet the friends from Northshore who make it possible:
Play & Learn:
numerous Hopelink volunteers
First, I would like to tell you a little bit about one of our very special volunteers, Joseph (Joe) Leonard, our English for Latinos teacher:
Joe has been a part of the Northshore Family Center since 2004. Isn’t that amazing? He has a full time job at Microsoft and comes in every Tuesday and Thursday to teach English. He is one of the most committed volunteers we have had in this community, and was honored with our 2008 Volunteer of the Year Award! Thank you so much, Joe, for donating your time and supporting the center for so long. Your help is greatly appreciated, and your students always look forward to learning from you.
Marissa Overcast started volunteering in the evening Children’s Program during the fall quarter and this is what she has to say about Northshore:
“Volunteering at the Northshore Family Center has been an incredible experience. During my first quarter here, I had the opportunity to be a part of the Children’s Program. I’d like to share a short story about something we did recently that the kids, other volunteers, and I really enjoyed! We had an exciting time making a paper Christmas tree to hang on the wall in the children’s room. First, we traced a tree outline onto a giant piece of brown paper and ripped up various shades of green paper. We put the tree outline on the table, and added glue to the paper as the kids had fun sticking the green paper pieces all over it. I am always impressed by how well the kids work together. By far, the best part was adding glitter. We poured red, green, and silver glitter in to the children’s palms and they sprinkles it all over the tree. The kids loved it, coming back for palm full after palm full of glitter until the tree looked perfect. It turned out better than I had ever imagined! We often do projects like this one that encourage the kids to work together and be creative. I feel very lucky to be able to see kids having fun and growing together the way they do here at Northshore. I began volunteering here for a college class project, but I am eager to continue at the Northshore Family Center long after the class ends. This organization provides great services and resources to the community, and being able to participate in that has been nothing but a blessing. I have learned more about myself and other community members than I ever anticipated”.
“Through my volunteering, I have experienced many unique situations that have not only helped grow my skills in interpersonal communication with children, but have also reminded me of numerous things that I have forgotten through life’s process of growing. It has been an absolute wonder to have been given the privilege to be able to work with such an intelligent, caring, and funny group of kids and I can’t wait to be able to work with them again.
As we grow older, we often forget the true value of simplicity in life. Having the opportunity to be around so many kids for these past months has reminded me how to reconnect with that simplicity. For the kids I worked with, having playtime would be the equivalent to getting bought a car or winning a million dollars, and playing live action “Zombies vs. Humans” and getting picked as one of the zombies was the worst that could ever happen in life. Working with these kids has taught me to once again appreciate that simplicity. It’s taught me that even though I can now realize at least a portion of life’s complex ways, it shouldn’t give me a reason to let its complex situations run my life to the point where I forget to appreciate all the little things.
Volunteering with the Northshore Family Center, and more specifically, its Afterschool Connections Program, has been absolutely wonderful, and I have enjoyed myself profusely. If you ever have the opportunity to volunteer with this family center, I more than whole-heartedly recommend it. This is only the beginning of a hopefully long-term relationship of volunteering that I have with the programs of the Northshore Family Center, and I look forward to the next volunteering session!”
Sei Unno, our youngest volunteer, shares her experience in this program:
“Volunteering through the Afterschool Connections Program at the Northshore Family Center was an amazing experience. Through the length of one quarter, every Tuesday, I would give around three hours of community service. These three hours usually consisted of playing with the kids who were enrolled in the program, helping them with their homework, supervising and interacting with them. Although this may not seem like much, it IS much more than the usual community service opportunity.
As it is for many people, my memories from first grade are a little fuzzy but I do remember how nice my teacher was, how understanding my peers were and how great it was to learn through hands-on experiments.”
Another volunteer who started in our brand new Afterschool Connections program at Green Leaf Apartments is Kate Estefani:
“I think the Afterschool Connections Program is a great environment for the children living in Green Leaf to experience. I don’t know much about the children but I could tell they all really enjoyed coming to the Afterschool program. When they found out that there would not be a session the next week because of the Thanksgiving holiday, they were all very disappointed. The children seemed to feel really safe, comfortable and happy to be there. It is a place where they are given structure and encouragement to succeed academically. It is a place where they can focus on and receive help with homework. I really like the structure of the program where the children arrive, get to enjoy a snack, talk for a bit, then work on homework, then have free time to enjoy fun activities.
My first day volunteering was great and I look forward to returning. I hope to be a role model for these children and have a positive influence on their lives. I think they all have so much potential to succeed. It’s great to be there for them, helping them with their homework and achieving their goals. It was also really nice to meet one of the parents who came by to express his gratitude and tell us how much his son enjoyed coming to the program. It seems like Jennifer Gaudinier [Family Support Specialist who facilitates this group] has worked really hard to make this program successful. From the kids’ happiness, I can tell that this work has paid off”.
Now, a personal note: One day, our Play & Learn facilitator had to go out of town, leaving me to lead her group. I was so nervous, but on the very same day, a new volunteer started. His name is Lucas Willet, and with his help things went smoothly. He got involved right away and with no further direction started playing with the kids. Here are his comments about the group:
“My experience at the family center was one of the best experiences of my life. I personally work at a daycare in Kenmore so I had a good understanding of what I was going to be doing here at the Northshore Family Center. Working within the Play & Learn program allowed me a first hand look at the relations between parents and children.
There were multiple opportunities for myself to get involved with the children which helped build a stronger bond. One of the most interesting things I took from the program was the ability to have such a successful non profit organization in Bothell. I felt that everything was well maintained and that the center used everything they had to the full potential. I really enjoyed working with Jane Shumway [Family Support Specialist who facilitates the English Play & Learn group] as well! There was never a moment where I felt unwanted . The overall experience was excellent and if anyone is looking for an opportunity to work with very intelligent children, THIS is the spot for you!”
We also have Melanie Grove, who volunteered in the Children’s Program:
“I really enjoyed my time at the Northshore Family Center. At first, I was nervous and felt out of place because I don’t speak Spanish, but the staff made me feel welcomed. At the beginning, I did more back ground things like cleaning up messes and spills and preparing snacks, but as the children got to know me a bit better and were less “afraid” of me, I took a more active role with the children. I especially appreciate that Analilia Garcia [Lead Children’s Program Specialist] made a special time for me to read stories with the children; I really enjoyed doing that. I was involved for such a short time, and I feel that I only got a small glimpse of the family center’s programs, but I really believe in what they are trying to accomplish both with the parents and with the children. I was very impressed with the way Karina Woodruff [Children’s Program Specialist] and Analilia worked with the children, they were (and are) very supportive and encouraged the children to be creative, each in their own unique way.
Thank you for the opportunity to let me be a part of what you are doing”.
Everyone at the family center believes in what we stand for, and even though we all have our own busy lives, I would like to highlight someone very special: Maira Shafiei-Tehrany. Besides being one of our Administrative Assistants here at the Northshore Family Center, Maira is a full time student in Nursing School. Her goal is to become a Registered Nurse (RN), AND she also finds time to volunteer at Evergreen Medical Center in the Information Desk. I asked her why, and she responded with a smile, saying that at the beginning she did it because she though it would help her career as a Registered Nurse, but as time went by she felt “kind of a rewarding feeling” at the end of the day. “Meeting people other than your coworkers is fun”, she quoted; she also said that this was a productive use of her time. At one point she was working, going to school, and volunteering for over 30 hours a week, very impressive!
We are all very proud of her and wish her the best at in her career.
Now, it’s time for the facilitators to tell you about their volunteers:
Jennifer Gaudinier facilitates the Summer Camp Adventure and Afterschool Connections Programs and she is very grateful to have had such a strong team of volunteers supporting her groups. She is especially grateful to Hilary Waite, and this is what she said about her:
“Hilary has been a committed volunteer for the past two quarters. She started in the summer program, where she contributed to the activities by conducting mini German language lessons. Her involvement in Camp Adventure and Afterschool Connections has strengthened the group”.
Jane Shumway facilitates our English Play and Learn and she wants to acknowledge one of her volunteers:
“Lucas Willet was instrumental in engaging many kids in class. He was a great leader and knew how to draw the children out with questions and comments. He was involved at their level and never did things for the children, but encouraged their own creativity with arts and crafts and exploring toys and other activities in the room”.
Now, the moment you’ve been waiting for… I will not keep you guessing any longer! Believe me when I say this: it was not an easy task, although it sure was nice to hear all of our Family Support Specialists talk about the help they received from each one of their volunteers. Well, unfortunately we just could not come to an agreement so we have TWO winners!
And the awards go to…
Hilary Waite and Lucas Willet
Their commitment and dedication have made a difference in this community; thank you, Hilary and Lucas for being such a strong part of our team!
We couldn’t have done it without you! All of us here at the center want to thank EVERY ONE of the volunteers for their hard work, time commitment, and great support they offer our Northshore Family Center!