You know how it is when you suddenly find you’ve found the perfect match for something? That’s exactly how I felt when Cami sat down at our table last year at the mentoring fair. Part of The Enrichment Alliance’s mission is to help children with special needs be included in enrichment programs outside of school. Cami introduced herself as a nurse who had additional training as an art teacher and wanted to volunteer with children. It wasn’t just her perfect combination of credentials, though, that told me this was the right match for us. It was also her gentle, yet engaging manner. I knew she had the right personality for the children we work with.
The only unfortunate thing was that last year’s mentoring fair fell at the end of our program cycle. I was so afraid that I might lose Cami to some other program before our children’s program began again in the fall. I need not have worried. All summer, Cami came in to our office once a week on her lunch hour and bravely helped me organize our burgeoning supply room. She also volunteered one Saturday when our organization participated in The Hope Community Center’s Meet Your Neighbor Day.
By the time our program started back up in the fall, it felt to me as if Cami had always been with us. She adapted readily to our eclectic mix of children, a combination of refugees, special needs children, and children with no need for extra support. After five weeks as a mentor, she was ready to lead program activities herself, delighting the children by teaching them how to make splendid jewelry out of…toilet paper. This winter, when I had a mildly contagious illness, I had no concerns about our program meeting, because I knew I could trust her to lead the program herself without my direct supervision.
Cami has made an enormous difference to in the lives of children who have needed the combination of stability and enthusiasm that she has brought to our program. I am so grateful to The United Way and Leadership Charlottesville for hosting the mentoring fair and cannot wait to meet more mentors this Thursday.
Come to the Omni between 11:00-2:00 on Thursday, January 28, 2010 to learn more about the Enrichment Alliance of Virginia and 14 other nonprofit youth-serving organizations.
Posted by Mary Anna Dunn, Enrichment Alliance of Virginia.
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