Thursday, March 28, 2013

Learning Through A New Volunteer Experience

Sarah Ahmad, Verrazano Class of 2015, is a Medical Technology major with a Biology minor.  Sarah is a volunteer mentor for Families Helping Families on Staten Island.  Read about Sarah's experience in her own words.
I have been volunteering with the organization called Families Helping Families.  This organization helps families of those with special needs children.  I admire their hard work, dedication, and commitment.  I heard about this organization when I was in high school, however I didn’t volunteer at any events until December 2012.  I volunteered at their New Year’s Eve party, and this was a different experience for me since my previous volunteer experience has been at a hospital.  At the party, I was able to interact with the kids and their families and we spent the day playing games and dancing.  It was an amazing feeling to see the smiles on their faces and was a wonderful experience. 

In January, I began volunteering as a mentor at social skills group.  At first I was a little nervous because I was afraid that I wouldn’t be able to connect with the kids or that they wouldn’t be comfortable sharing their problems and stories with me.  But I soon realized that that wasn’t a problem.  A typical day of volunteering at the social skills group starts by meeting with Andrea, the CEO and Program Director.  At this meeting she tells us what topics will be discussed or should be addressed.  Then we’ll greet the kids and ask about their week or day at school.  As we talk about any problems that came up in their classrooms with their friends or peers, we will complete an arts and crafts project.  We make sure to address the “theme” of that day and listen to their opinions on how to solve the problem. 

I decided to volunteer with Families Helping Families because it was something new and different for me.  I feel that we should have experiences outside our comfort zone because it allows us to be more aware of the world around us and helps us become more open minded, diverse, and mature as people.  Working with others and meeting new people is always a great opportunity.  With this particular service, we have to be able to not only work and associate with the kids but also take their concerned loving parents into consideration.  I think the most unique thing about this opportunity is being able to interact with the kids; as a mentor, we are able to share our advice and opinions about something that they value.  As a mentor, we are able to let them know we’re there for them.  I think what most people don’t realize with these children is that they aren’t any different from any other person; they’re all smart, wonderful, and beautiful children.  I think that many people underestimate these children and never give them the chance to show their wonderful qualities.  Volunteering with Families Helping Families has helped me to view the world around me and become open minded, it allows me to not be judgmental.  I have always wanted to become a pediatrician and working with these children is a wonderful experience.  It’s a great feeling to be able to connect with them, share a story, and give them advice. Not only are they learning from the mentors, but we learn so much from them. 

To learn more about Families Helping Families, please visit,

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