Community Members Coming Together

For my second stop on my week of volunteering, today I volunteered with World Relief, a refugee resettlement agency. There are many different aspects to this agency’s work. I am so impressed by how they manage it all. Despite language barriers, cultural differences and complex immigration processes, World Relief manages to accommodate their client’s needs effectively and compassionately. I began volunteering with World Relief after Volunteer Odyssey’s VolunCheers Minute Match event in June, so today I was able to really dive into work with refugee clients. I spent the morning assisting clients with intake forms. In the afternoon I switched to my continued volunteering with a family that I have been working with during my earlier volunteer stints.

Through my experience at World Relief, I see that there is great value in connecting newcomers to Memphis with established community members. My relationship with the refugee family gives them someone to reach out to in the community and a friend who speaks their language. I am available to them for questions, to confide in, or to just spend time together. The benefits for me include getting to use my French skills as well as making a lasting connection and learning about another culture. These personal connections are so valuable and rewarding to me. My experience with World Relief affirms that I thrive working with others. I am really enjoying the opportunity to both volunteer and reflect on what the volunteering means to me. I can’t wait to see what else is in store for this week!

With the youngest daughter, Christevie

With the youngest daughter, Christevie

Opening Eyes to the Beauty of Memphis

I spent the afternoon at Clean Memphis and had an awesome experience! I volunteered with Kristine Pierce, Director of Education. I was unsure of what to expect from the experience but from the minute I walked through the doors of Clean Memphis, I felt welcomed and comfortable amongst the staff. Kristine and I prepped materials for a science lesson. Then we taught the lesson at a local camp. The educational program is one of three programs that Clean Memphis conducts, working to achieve the goal of Memphis Clean by 2019. I really enjoyed talking with Kristine about the importance of creating a cleaner, and in turn, more livable and beautiful city.

At the camp, we played games to broaden the campers’ understanding of ecological systems. For one game, campers were given animal cards, and without looking at their card, guessed which animal they had based on clues. I loved playing such a hands on activity with kids. Clean Memphis does an awesome job providing children with opportunities to engage in their learning. Allowing children to learn through experience and discussion, rather than just textbooks, is so important.

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Volunteering with Clean Memphis brought back some very happy childhood memories. Every summer as a child I took a bus from Philly to Maine to attend a wilderness tripping camp called Kieve-Wavus. It was during those summers that my eyes were opened to the beauty in our world and the importance of keeping it clean. In groups of about 10 girls, we would go on trips hiking and paddling for weeks at a time. It was on these trips that I first understood my personal strength but also my ability to impact the world around me. Our counselors taught us the importance of “leaving no trace” and other ways to reduce our ecological footprint. I went on to work for Kieve-Wavus and loved the experience of challenging young girls to step outside of their comfort zone. It was so rewarding to push kids to both physically challenge themselves by paddling or hiking hundreds of miles as well as to mentally challenge themselves by rethinking how they can shape the future of our world.

Today at Clean Memphis, I had that same rewarding feeling as I did when I worked at Kieve-Wavus. Clean Memphis is making a huge impact on our community. This is definitely work that I could envision myself doing. Stay tuned for my next volunteering adventure!