I had always been involved in community service during my high school years, and really enjoyed it. However, although when I came to UVA, I was involved briefly with community service organizations, in the Fall semester of 2010, it dawned upon me that I was not involved in any community service, and I desperately wanted to do something worthwhile within the Charlottesville community. So, I went to the Madison House website to see if there were any organizations that I would be interested in, and subsequently, selected Teens Give.
Why did you chose your program? What do you like about it?
I chose Teens Give because I am very passionate about mentoring younger students. Having gained experience with mentoring through the Peer Advising Program at the University of Virginia, I saw how valuable it is for students to have someone who they can approach comfortably about anything. I also was able to experience the fulfillment of positively impacting the lives of others. Teens Give is a unique program in that you participate in community service work such as at local schools which I love while still aiding the development of the students directly supported by Teens Give which I love just as much. I really appreciate the fact that one has the opportunity to be a role model for these students just by one’s presence every week.
One particular day, during Teens Give, the students in the program, as a reward for their good behavior and hard work, were treated to dinner. When we got to the restaurant, the Teens Give employee in charge of the group proceeded to pay for the meals. As a volunteer, I was welcome to eat, but I would have to pay for myself, so I decided not to purchase anything. Instead, I joined the conversation at the table. Staring randomly in the direction of one of the Teens Give students, he misperceived that my aim was to take his food, so much so that even when I was not looking at him, he accused me of looking in his direction. In fact, he claimed that I was such a bother that he could not finish his meal in my presence. Later, I would find that he had taken the meal home in a box, and finished it. After that day, the student and I would make jokes about this particular incident, so fortunately, there were no permanent hard feelings.
Teens Give, to some, may sound intimidating as one has absolutely no idea about the background of the students that one will be encountering. However, in my experience, I have found that there have been few outrageous incidents. Normally, the students are well-behaved and ready to engage with the volunteers once a certain level of comfortability has been ascertained. You may not always be tangibly able to see it, but for much of the students, they really come to appreciate what you do and your desire to befriend them.
Phillip Lecky is a 4th Year Economics Major. He has volunteered with Madison House since 3rd year, and got the chance to see Usain Bolt perform at a live track meet in Kingston, Jamaica when he was 15.