I began volunteering with SKIP during my freshman year because I wanted something meaningful to fill the gaps in my day. I signed up not knowing anyone and on my first day I was surrounded by dozens of new faces. As the kids ran up to the veteran volunteers I stood awkwardly wondering what I had gotten myself into. I decided just to jump in though and sat down next to a little girl who was finishing up her homework. Within a few minutes of talking to her, I realized she was just like me when I was me in 9 year old form. The next week she asked if we could just hang out again and play cards. I was worried I was supposed to be helping with group activity but when I asked the Landis program coordinator’s permission to sit out she laughed explaining we were there to do whatever the kids needed.
It is for that reason I have come to love this program. At school, it is so easy to get caught up in my own needs. I can eat at weird hours and go to bed late. I am the only one I am responsible for except during my time at SKIP. During that time each week I get to give someone else exactly what they want or need at that moment. Whether it’s a lap to snuggle in or an ear to hear about the latest third grade scandal, they are first priority. I know it must sound odd to say I love something that minimizes my own needs but the rewards that come from acting solely in someone else’s benefit are worth it. Whether it is the hug of gratitude for helping someone master their times tables or listening to them say how they want to go to college someday too, there is never a day I wished I did something else with my Monday afternoon.