Question: How do you compare volunteering in Strong Start® with other volunteer experiences you have had?

Volunteer Coach Gillian

I do a lot of volunteering in this school and do a lot of different tasks. When I work in a classroom on other volunteer jobs I can see what a child might need, but I can’t work on it in a concentrated way. I do a variety of things in the classroom with many different children. When I volunteer in the Strong Start® program, I can work for 10 weeks with one child on something specific and I get to see the child progressing as a direct result of my efforts.

I enjoy this program also because I feel it is very important that the children get their language skills early. A lot of these kids here are very needy. They need to be able to identify letters, sounds and words. If they can do this early in grade one, they have a better chance of wanting to read. This program focuses on some very specific skills that are needed. When a child in the classroom says to me, “I can’t do this.” I say to myself, “Oh, no. He shouldn’t have to feel that way. Self-esteem is so important”. When I can work with one child for an extended time using a program like Strong Start®, I can help that child go back into the classroom with skills he didn’t have before. Through this positive support I’m helping to build self-esteem.

Volunteer Coach Heather

I also volunteer at the hospital. This is a totally different experience. Although what I’m doing at the hospital is very important, I feel I am helping more here. At the hospital I’m more or less helping staff to give care they don’t have the time for. Here I’m doing a curriculum and am more involved with each child over a longer time. There is a greater feeling of accomplishment when I know that the child is learning because of my efforts.

I didn’t have any children that went to this school. Since I didn’t know anyone in this school, I was a little nervous when I first agreed to volunteer here instead of in my grandchildren’s school in the suburbs. But I wanted to get involved with children where I could really help. Children here don’t get the same opportunities as those in my grandchildren’s school. I think the children here really need someone.

Volunteer Coaches Heather and Gillian

You really get to build a positive relationship with a child through the Strong Start® program. When we arrive in the school or show up at the door of a classroom, the children will spontaneously smile and say, “Are you going to take me today?” They look forward to the program and the one-to-one attention.

Even when we see children we worked with last year, they say hello and want to talk. They often want us to work with them again. It’s a wonderful feeling to be reminded over and over again that the child liked the time you spent together.