Volunteer Profile: ‘You get really invested in their life’
Susan Abbot is a retired Special Education Teacher and is currently the owner of Charles Abbott Associates, Inc. As a longtime volunteer at the Shalimar Learning Center in Costa Mesa and a THINK Together investor and donor, she knows first-hand the results of extended learning time programs. We recently asked her to share with us her thoughts about THINK Together.
Q: How did you first get involved with THINK Together and begin volunteering?
I’m a former member of St. Andrews Presbyterian Church and they would put a notice in the bulletin each week about local volunteering opportunities. Because I am a retired teacher, I thought that would be fun for me to volunteer and get involved with kids. I went to orientation in October 2005 and started loving it. So I have been with Shalimar for almost seven years now.
Q: Why did you choose to be a part of this particular organization?
I could have gone to volunteer at Boys and Girls Club in Laguna Beach because I live in Laguna. But when I saw the announcement in the church’s bulletin about THINK Together, I thought that this is something that the church supports so I would love to help out. So I went to Shalimar and I was hooked. I just felt in love with the children and I didn’t look back at all. I didn’t need to go anywhere else because these children they need the help. I wouldn’t volunteer with anybody, but these students come from homes where their parents aren’t able to help them with their homework. I’m such a huge advocate of THINK Together because of all the wonderful things the organization is doing in helping and nurturing the kids so they can achieve the best like their peers.
Q: What is the best part of volunteering at THINK Together?
That’s hard because there are so many best parts. First are the children. They are just sweet, loving, respectful, and polite. They love to learn but they accept the help. They are eager to receive support from the volunteers and feel so grateful about it. Second are the site coordinators. I wish I could just tell the whole world about Adrienne, the site coordinator, and Patricia, the program leader for Elementary Education at Shalimar. They run a beautiful and well-managed program. They are very loving and warm but they expect the children to be good mannered. When you walk in there, the children are doing everything they are supposed to do. They are just so marvelous and seeing those bright smiles on the kids’ faces everyday, it makes me want to just come again year after year. And when you come back year after year, you get to watch the children grow up and mature into young teenage adults. You get really invested in their life. They care about you as much as you care about them.
Q: What would you recommend for others who want to get more involved in the community through volunteer work?
I would encourage people to just go out there and do it! Don’t worry if you think that you won’t be able to find a program that matches up with your interests because there are so many different ways to volunteer in your local communities. Go one time to see how wonderful it is. Once you go one time, you will want to keep coming back. For me, the students’ smiles and enthusiasm are like magnets. I am drawn into their smiles and enthusiasm and that’s why I keep coming back again and again.SHARE