"Never volunteer for anything!" I was advised by my peers, all of us new Army recruits. I nodded my head and laughed with the group in mock agreement, thinking to myself; "These people have never volunteered for anything but the Army!" At 18 years old and just out of high school, I already had several rewarding volunteer experiences under my belt. So when the platoon sergeant asked at formation the next morning, "Does anyone here know how to sew?" I only hesitated long enough to look around to see if anyone else raised their hand. Despite the advice of my peers, I raised my hand and said "I can run a sewing machine and sew a hem." I was promptly dismissed from formation on a very cold February morning and told to report to the Colonel's office. There I spent the next two weeks hemming curtains and doing various other paperwork assignments while the rest of my platoon was outside in the February weather picking up garbage over the whole post.
Most of my volunteer experiences have been just as rewarding. Most recently, I was offered the opportunity to attend the Kentucky Head Start Association Conference in Louisville, Kentucky, as a reward for putting in volunteer service hours and fund development efforts. Having attended the year before, I knew that the conference workshops geared toward parent attendees were limited. So, instead of just attending this year, I was also afforded the opportunity to do some more volunteering. Lucky me!
Appalachian Communities For Children (ACC), a non-profit organization operating in Clay and Jackson counties, works with Head Start and Early Head Start programs to bring books and activities to Head Start children and offers parent crafting workshops. As a volunteer (and ACC Board Member) I proposed to Director Judy Martin that we could run a parent workshop at the conference. Judy liked the idea and worked with KCEOC and was awarded an opportunity to run a parent crafting workshop for attendees of the conference. KCEOC provided binders, notebooks, page protectors, scissors, glue, and various other scrapbooking materials. The workshop, which we called "Made By You - For You" was a tremendous success. Parents from all over Kentucky attended and were given many ideas for scrapbooking on a budget. The parents were provided with scrapbook materials to take home along with a scrapbook page they created in the workshop with pictures of themselves taken at the workshop by Pam Hubbard, KCEOC Board Member and KCEOC Policy Council Community Representative. Judy Martin and ACC also provided an opportunity for several Head Start parents from Island Creek in Clay County (Tonya Belt, Terri Sams, BeBe Napier, and Janie Ruth) to help run the workshop, giving them an opportunity to share the skills they have learned with other Head Start parents from around the state.
I truly enjoyed my experience as "Parent/Trainer" at this annual conference. I have made friends and had many fun times as a result of my "Volunteer Experience" with KCEOC and ACC, and hope to continue, as well as to inspire, others to follow in my footsteps.