October 3, 2014

Volunteer Spotlight: Kym

“It’s easy to take for granted things like being able to read the Metro maps or count change at the grocery store, but not everyone is able to do those things. By volunteering for just a few hours a week, I was able to help clients learn those skills, and I saw first-hand the impact that I could have on someone’s life.” – Kym

Kym was one of Green Door’s most committed volunteers over the last two years in the education program. She had been feeling “burnt out and adrift” while working two part-time jobs and began looking online for a place to volunteer a few hours each week. Kym tutored in the past, but had never worked with adults or with people living with mental illness. Even though she “hit the ground running,” she said she felt comfortable and confident because “you’re never really alone here” and there is always someone nearby if you need help. Kym began helping with administrative tasks and tutoring during open-tutoring hours; now she is “like my right arm,” according to Jen, the Education Program Coordinator. When Jen first took over the education program from her predecessor, Kym was able to help show Jen the ropes. Jen often looked to Kym for suggestions as she re-vamped the education program, and Kym points to her role in helping to develop the program as one of the most rewarding experiences. “The clients are being better served now because the program is more structured,” Kym says.

Kym taught a couple of classes on her own and even had her students complete a project where they planned how to start their own business from the ground up. “We had a lot of fun with that assignment,” Kym remembers. She also really enjoys the recognition ceremonies that are held twice a year as a way to honor the students’ achievements. “They have become more formal than they used to be,” Kym notes, “and people really look forward to being able to bring their friends and family.”

Kym left Green Door at the end of the summer for the Peace Corps, where she will be working on agroforestry and HIV prevention in Cameroon.  “I’ll miss the sense of community here at Green Door,” Kym says. She regularly feels “inspired” by the clients because they “are never complacent and are continuously setting new goals for themselves.” However, Kym will take with her the perspective that she gained from volunteering with Green Door.