Volunteering This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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   Through my work at a shelter, I have discovered how fulfilling volunteer work canbe. This is a shelter for women with severe problems. Almost all of the residentshas either been physically or sexually abused. The home provides transitionalhousing for up to twenty-nine women. They must agree to a rigorous, verydisciplined and structured lifestyle. Part of this stipulates that the woman willspend several hours a day working in the thrift shop which subsidizes the home.

As a volunteer, I spend part of my day pricing and sorting clothes andperforming a variety of duties. However, the true challenge of my days isAnnie.This woman, probably in her late fifties, has decided that she wants to gether GED. I have always had an interest in teaching, so I offered to work withher. Annie and I agreed that, because I am not a math person, we would focus onthe literature and arts portions of the test. She has some serious problems,taking medications that she says cause her to have trouble concentrating. Herinability to focus contributes to many of my frustrations, but Annie isdetermined to get her GED and she is so sincerely grateful for myhelp.

Sometimes it occurs to me that I may not really be the teacher; itseems as though I learn a lot from my "student." It is hard to watchher struggle through a paragraph and grapple with punctuation, but I can onlyhelp her to a certain point. She has problems with reading and comprehendingdirections. Her medication causes her to shake so that her handwriting isillegible and she must interpret her work for me. I find that my time helpingAnnie is occasionally teeth-gritting, but I find it gratifying to helpanother.

Aside from tutoring Annie, I frequently interact with the otherresidents who work in the shop. Most of the women are glad to have someone totalk to and I am a pro at conversation. I have become more aware of thecomfortable life I lead, and I am learning to look at things from anotherperson's eyes, understanding how to appreciate precious things I take forgranted.

I feel that volunteering is something everyone should do; itgives you a new perspective on life. I would certainly recommend working at ashelter, I know my experiences there will probably influence the rest of my life.fl


This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.






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