When I stop to think about it, I think I have always volunteered. I imagine it started out as some form of behavioural conditioning, nature vs nurture. I was raised by parents who walked the talk. Though they were extremely busy raising their large brood, they always found time and some way to help others. As my Dad often said, "Plop. Is that an apple I hear?" From each volunteering experience I have always walked away with an unanticpated gift; a new skill, a life's lesson, a life long friend... Every gift is special and a memorial to the joys of giving. The biggest joy came last week.
I am currently working with the local literacy council helping a woman accomplish her dream of getting her GED. She and I are only a few years apart in age, have both lived in the same states, have strong religious beliefs and values, and have raised families. So many similarities. Yet, the primary differences were our families' value of education and the belief that it is attainable for everyone. Little did I know how much I had taken that for granted until working with G. She has taught me as much, if not more, than I have taught her.
We have been working on reading and math for several months now. G is a bright woman, eager to learn and a joy to work with. Her vocabulary arsenal has grown and she is starting to trust that she knows how to solve word problems. Last week she went to the post office for a couple of money orders to pay her bills after cashing her paycheck. She told me how she had $xx in her pocketbook to add to her paycheck so she would have enough money for the two money orders. She placed $60 on the counter and took change out of her pocket. Some of the change fell on the floor and she bent down to pick it up. When she stood up and handed the attendant the change the women told her she still needed to give her the $60. (Yes, sad to say, a true story.) G didn't argue at that moment, handed over another $60, got her money orders and returned to work. She kept thinking about the incident sure that she had placed the original $60 on the counter and wondering how to prove it. She decided to make a word problem of the situation, checked her math several times and told her boss she had to go back to the Post Office. When she got there, G presented her word problem and her paycheck receipt to the attendant. She then got her $60 back!!
Needless to say, G was so happy that she was able to prove her point by using a word problem. She feels she is that much closer to her GED. I was joyous about the fact that she trusted herself to do the math correctly and used it to defend herself against a bully. Empowerment, it is a beautiful thing!
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Kathy this is a fantastic example of the power of ONE! You have taken the time to make a real difference in the life of one person. Not that she is the only person you have or are touching in your life, but because you are willing to empower one woman it will have an affect on many later. I can only imagine the joy when she returned to class. I'm proud of you for that. Great story!!
It is true! It is in giving that we receive, and often much more is received that we give. Volunteering is such a gift. When the 2002 Olympics was in danger of being carried out, one person gave much of himself and it made all the difference. Mitt Romney was sought out by Utah (past) governor, Mike Leavitt and the 400 million dollar deficit was turned around to a $100 million in the black and thousands volunteered to make the Olympics a reality. Much more was received by those who volunteered than each of them gave. And our students in Utah are still benefiting from the venues that were built.
I am upset that G. was taken advantage of! I want to go right down to the Post Office and reprimand that person! Unbelievable and Bravo to G. for standing up for her rights and being strong enough to actually go back and do it. Please tell G. that I am so proud of her and you my dear, I am so grateful to know you are doing this, it has inspired me, love, Christine