A volunteering story by: Luis E. Espinosa-Zagal
My good friend Jocelyn volunteers at a wonderful organization called The Miracle League of Joliet. This organization teaches kids with disabilities how to play baseball. Each volunteer is paired up with a kid, and they become each other’s buddy. The volunteer is there to guide them while they play baseball. What my friend Jocelyn does is she provides moral support for her buddy. Her buddy is a young girl named Alaina. Out on the field Jocelyn is there to support her physically and mentally. Her duty as a volunteer is to cheer her buddy on throughout the games and practices. She must also stand by her buddy at all times to protect them from getting hurt on the field. For example, she stops the ball if the ball is coming to fast or if her buddy is not prepared. She stands by her buddy’s side in case of any emergency. Protection is extremely important, but Jocelyn feels as though there is one duty just as important if not more. This is to become a good friend to her buddy and to help her buddy have an amazing summer playing baseball no matter her buddy’s disability. Her duty is to ensure that her buddy is having a great time playing, filled with laughs and smiles. Another important duty is to help her buddy become friends with some of the other kids. She does this by sparking conversations with other kids and her buddy and by creating practices with some of the other kids. Creating friendships among the kids is important because it just makes playing baseball a ton more fun. She truly enjoys having fun with her buddy and the rest of the kids.
My friend Jocelyn decided to volunteer because she wanted to give and help those who deserve it. She had a ton of friends who were constantly volunteering and helping out others through many different organizations, but she had never volunteered outside her school before. She felt as though she needed to be a part of something greater. She heard of this organization through a friend and she definitely knew right away that this is what she wanted to do over the summer. She believes that every child, no matter the circumstance, whether it is family problems, economic problems, or a disability, deserves to have a fun-filled summer. She has always enjoyed playing sports and has always loved being around kids. This was the perfect organization for her. Her main goal was to make a difference in the lives of a kid. She still clearly remembers being paired up with her buddy Alaina. Alaina showed so much excitement to begin playing with her new buddy and every day that Jocelyn showed up for games and practices, Alaina had the biggest smile in the whole world. Knowing that someone was so excited and always waiting for Jocelyn to arrive made the whole experience worthwhile to her. Jocelyn says that seeing that smile was a true motivation for her to keep helping her buddy. She couldn’t believe that she could do something so great and wonderful. To her, that was the best feeling ever.
The Aha! moment…
Volunteering for The Miracle League of Joliet has been a great learning experience for my good friend Jocelyn. She had never worked so closely with someone with a disability before so this was something completely new to her. Her buddy Alaina is in a wheelchair. Both of them had to work together to find ways to help her better play baseball, without letting her disability stop her from having fun. Jocelyn also learned to savor the small moments in life. Something as small as hitting or catching the ball can mean the world to someone. Everyone should take the time to rejoice in those small moments, because though small, they shape who we are and how we feel. She also learned from her buddy that some people just want and need a friend. The organization is not about making these kids better baseball players, but making these kids long lasting friendships. She said that Alaina did not care much about winning a game or being the best player. What she cared about was being able to have fun with her new friends and her buddy, win or lose. Jocelyn says that this is an important life lesson that everyone should learn. Though Jocelyn is there to teach her buddy how to play, she says that her buddy is the true teacher here. Her buddy Alaina has taught her so much about happiness and about the importance of enjoying the little things in life. Jocelyn has become good friends with Alaina and she cannot wait to make more friends every summer through this amazing organization. This experience has truly changed how she sees things.
To summarize it in three words…
- Fun, Friendship, Happiness
Why should you do this
Jocelyn recommends everyone to volunteer how she did because not only is it extremely fun, but it is a huge and positive life changing experience.