Spring Volunteer Spotlight

 VOLUNTEER SPOTLIGHT

Rachael & AmandaRachaelAmanda2This month we have 2 amazing Children’s Volunteers sharing the title of Volunteer of the Month – Rachael B who has been a volunteer since February 2016 and Amanda H who’s been with us since October 2016. They’re phenomenal in their own right, and a powerhouse team that works together to facilitate the kids group at Sister Carmen Community Center – one of SPAN’s largest & longest standing groups. Both Rachael & Amanda have stepped up to help out beyond their volunteer roles numerous times since volunteering here at SPAN. We don’t know what we’d do without them. Thanks for being reliably awesome & fun you two!

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What keeps you busy when you’re not volunteering at SPAN?:

RB: Monday through Friday I am the Educational Outreach Specialist at Colorado Youth for a Change in the Boulder Valley School District. I find and support students who are not currently attending, or have “dropped out” of high school. I work with these students to address the barriers they have to accessing education, and together we figure out what the next step is towards their educational goals.I feel total bliss when I am: riding my old-school road bike, working on my garden, reading Murakami’s IQ84, eating tacos, rock climbing, cross country skiing, dabbling in dance classes, having a Talking Heads dance party, and/or drinking coffee.

AH: I’m a graduate student at Naropa, studying art therapy and clinical mental health counseling. That takes up most of my time, but other than that I love hanging out with my boyfriend, playing video games, cooking, or exploring outside.

What made you want to become a volunteer here?

RB: I wanted to volunteer at SPAN because of the commitment SPAN has to social justice. From working in wilderness therapy, I came to understand that when addressing trauma and healing,  systems of privileges and oppressions are not always considered. Recognizing these systems and being honest with where a person sits in the intersections of it all, is a necessary framework to operate from. I am constantly learning this.

AH: I had worked with a SPAN kids group at Naropa and really loved it. When I saw how amazing the training was, and that they needed volunteers, it just seemed to make sense. It’s an organization that really practices what it preaches, and holds strong to it’s values.

What keeps you coming back to volunteer?

RB: The kiddos! I am so thankful that when I became a children’s volunteer, I decided to volunteer at Sister Carmen in Lafayette. Since February 2016, I have seen the kids grow and develop their sense of self. I know that the purpose of play is greater than I realize, but honestly, we have so much fun.

AH: The kids. They are great and their personalities keep me grounded. They don’t want another person to tell them how to do things or how to behave- they just really want someone to play with them, and at the end of the day that’s usually all I want as well

What is the best part about being a kid?

RB: Play time. Every time. Testing boundaries.

AH: From what I’ve seen and remember, it’s imagination. These kids come up with the most amazing games. Just last night we played Pokemon for over an hour outside, and we didn’t need cell phones to do it.

Since volunteering here, what is one thing you have learned about social justice?

RB: The first place to start is with the self. Owning the privileges and oppression I hold is the first step in having empathy to the story of anyone else. There are no exemptions. It’s hard and incredibly important daily work.

 AH: Especially as a cis-hetero white women, I have learned that multicultural aspects need to always be in the back of my mind. However, not in such a way that it hinders what I am able to bring to the table when working with the kids. There are very real implications going down right now that a lot of people, but especially kids at SPAN have to face. I have to be able to recognize these, give them space, and still be myself in the most authentic way possible. 
Better understanding social justice, through work and training with SPAN, has changed the way I show up, how I meet people, and how I meet my own prejudice

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