Volunteer Square loves to recognize exceptional individuals that donate their time and energy to nonprofit organizations across Connecticut. These volunteers make a true impact in the lives of others. Due to the COVID-19 crisis, annual volunteer recognition events had to be canceled so we wanted to offer an alternative way to honor volunteers. We reached out to all the volunteer coordinators we work with and asked them to nominate volunteers. We are thrilled to share all the wonderful stories here and on our website, over the next several weeks. If you would like nominate a volunteer, please fill out this Nomination Form.
Here is what Hannah had to say about Debbie:
Debbie has rallied her neighbors to help us feed families in our programs who have been affected by COVID 19. She has gathered and dropped off groceries and supplies endlessly over the last few months. In addition, she is a mentor in our program and has remained in touch with her mentee, a 3rd grader, over video chat every week.
Interview with Debbie Smith
What made you start volunteering for The Human Services Council?
I love working with kids and Columbus School had given so much to my kids when they were young. The Norwalk Mentoring Program offered me a chance to work with kids while at the same time giving back to the school that shaped my kids into the outstanding people they are today.
What do you love about volunteering there?
Columbus School is a magical place. I love that it's family centered. I love how all ethnicities are celebrated. I love that everyone is part of a team to help children with challenges. When I walk in the door, the principal, Mr. T greets me with a big bear hug and a progress report on my mentees. As I walk down the hall I may bump into the physical-ed teacher, music teacher, ESL specialist, social worker and they'll have more updates on my little guys. By the time I get to the classroom I not only feel like I've got a handle on how they're doing but I feel confident that they're in a warm, loving and forever nurturing environment.
Have you participated in other volunteer work before?
This is the first long term volunteer experience I've had.
How do you encourage others to get involved?
For anyone who can spare 1 hour a week, consistently, to spend with a child in need of an adult friend, The Norwalk Mentoring Program is for you.
Is there anything else you would like me to know to include in the spotlight?
My mentoring day is the highlight of my week. When my 6 yr old mentee, sees me from down the hall and sprints into my arms, there are no words to describe the joy I feel. The smile that spreads across my 12 yr old mentees face when we see each other melts my heart. Another mentor gave me some advice during a particularly challenging time with one of my mentees- he said we're not here to fix all of their problems. We're here to be a spark in their lives. That has stayed with me every day. And the bonus is, they are a spark in my life!