A volunteering story by: Jeremy Tecktiel
My older sister has done a lot of volunteering in her life for many different organizations, but when I asked her to choose her favorite one, she didn’t hesitate when she said the Boys and Girls clubs of America. She has volunteered for Boys and Girls Clubs in many different cities, including Milwaukee, Chicago, Minneapolis and Cincinnati. She said it is her favorite because all she does is spend time with kids and get to know them. She started volunteering in high school as part of a youth group program. There were a few options and she chose Boys and Girls Clubs because she loved kids and didn’t see spending a few hours hanging out with kids as community service. Once she went, she knew she couldn’t stop going. She said she probably has more fun than the kids do when they go. Knowing that she helps these kids get away from a possibly troubled home life or keep them off the streets where danger is inevitable is what makes her keep going back. She said one of the other things she loves about Boys and Girls Clubs is that it is different almost every time. She spends time with different kids and is able to learn something new from each of them. Sometimes she plays basketball or does obstacle course with the kids, sometimes she does arts and crafts, and sometimes she just watches movies with them. She enjoys all of them equally because she gets to spend time with kids and make them smile.
Growing up in a loving family in a suburb of Chicago, she never lacked people to spend time with or good influences to learn from. Volunteering for Boys and Girls Clubs made her realize just how important that was and how many kids there are that grow up without that in their lives. With our parents being teachers in the Chicago Public School system, we always heard stories of neglected kids not having any role models to learn from, but hearing stories and seeing it firsthand are very different. She loves how Boys and Girls Clubs give kids something to look forward to every day and people to teach them responsibility. Her first time, there was a little girl that she spent hours doing arts and crafts with. When it came time to leave, the little girl confessed to my sister that this was her first time at a Boys and Girls Club. She wanted somewhere to go other than home because it wasn’t safe or fun for her. She was really nervous about going because other kids had picked on her in school, but she planned on going back every day because of how much fun she had with my sister and how much my sister paid attention to her. If that girl had had a bad experience her first time, who knows if she would ever have come back or what would have happened to her? She and my sister became pen pals to keep in touch and are now, 10 years later, friends on Facebook.
The Aha! moment…
My sister learned to respect other people because you never know what their background is. Unfortunately, there are too many children that come from rough neighborhoods and struggle to make it out. My sister was able to see firsthand how she impacted someone’s life and kept going back because you never know if you are going to meet another shy child who is looking for someone to look up to. She learned so much about the hardships people have to go through and she said she carries that with her in everything she does. She finds herself treating people differently, in a good way, because of her experiences. She is more apt to give someone the benefit of the doubt because you never know what they are going through under the surface.
To summarize it in three words…
- difference, respect, fun
Why should you do this
Now that my sister is older and has a job, it is much harder to find time to make it to Boys and Girls Clubs, but luckily, multiple people whose lives she touched at Boys and Girls Clubs have gone back to pass on those messages to the next group of young kids that found a home at the Boys and Girls Clubs.