Volunteering at Boys and Girls Club

A friend and fellow Toastmaster recently asked me if I could be his substitute for a volunteering gig while he's on a trip for 2 weekends. The task includes critiquing the kids on their speeches in preparation for a speech contest. Today, he invited me to see what he does and meet the kids he works with. Contribute it to the vagueness in his original description or perhaps my frequent narrow vision, I thought this favor (to him and the kids) would primarily be an opportunity to pass on my knowledge. It would certainly be an opportunity but, they were doing me a favor and I would be the one who learns.

As I heard my friend provide the kids with speaking tips and direction, I also found a few pointers that were new to me or had slipped from my vernacular. And then the kids gave their "icebreaker" speeches... I was flabbergasted by the stories they told - stories of anguish, of abuse, homelessness, bullying, misdirection, confusion, and isolation. During a time in a person's life when he or she is so vulnerable, so blank, and so dependent on direction, where was the fairness or humanity in harming them? I felt ashamed. I felt bad. I felt unworthy. I felt that for every nominal and silly complaint I made in my life, there were others who had a fraction of the good fortune I have been blessed with. However, with each story, there was something else. Something reminiscent of that tipping point in a movie when you know that things will be okay. I knew that I was sitting amongst future leaders and people who would have the drive to affect change. Great change. The group, one by one, spoke of how they were relocated to loving families, understood the wrong, understood that something needed to be done to inject positivity in their lives, how they were taking positions in leadership groups that provided them with goals and challenges, and how they would, one foot at a time, conquer their mountains.

I couldn't help but walk away feeling good and it was a reminder that everyone is mentally and soulfully stimulated through different venues. So, is it really an opportunity for me? Absolutely. I know I will learn a lot through instructing these kids.


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