How this group of volunteers makes Jefferson City an incredible community.
I’m going to be honest with you. Until recently, I was completely ignorant about the depth of our community. Jefferson City was a wonderful place in which to grow up and go to school, but I didn’t understand what makes our city — the capital city — special. The capacity of giving here is, without question, truly remarkable. Without really thinking about it, we structure our social events, sporting events, professional lives, and more around giving back to those in need. And as we’ve shown, there is need here. Thankfully, we’re a community of philanthropic warriors, each and every one displaying a passion for what they do.
Volunteerism isn’t a one-way street. Six adults with developmental disabilities at the Day Solutions Inc. Day Habilitation Program know this well — Jackie, Chris A., Jocelyn, Caleb, Jean, Chris K., and Heather all give back to Jefferson City while receiving recognition of their own. Their commitment to nonprofits like Jefferson City Animal Shelter, Fresh Start Market, and Buddy Packs have been selected as 2017 candidates for the President’s Volunteer Service Award, a national award for outstanding volunteer service.
And they’re not only helping people in need; they’re gaining job skills for the future. “When Day Solutions opened, the goal was, in part, to integrate the clients into the community,” says Tiffany Burns, support services administrator. “One of the ways we did that was by setting up volunteer jobs in fields where our clients could potentially work in the future. As word began to spread about what we were doing, many local businesses began contacting us because they wanted to be a part of our clients’ success.”
One client, Jackie, says her dream job is working with animals. “I play with them and clean their dishes,” she says. “I’ve grown up with animals, and they help me feel better.” Jackie also bakes cookies at the Fresh Start Market for the families waiting to pick up items. “When I was with my biological family, I used to get checks from SSI and disability, so I know how it feels to not have much. I enjoy helping other people. I see homeless people, and it breaks my heart,” she says.
Chris A., another client, performs maintenance work to keep Grace Episcopal Church beautiful and helps deliver Buddy Packs to West Elementary. “My father would be proud. It helps the community and it’s for a good cause,” he says. “I also help out with fundraisers, events, and deliveries [for Day Solutions]. I like meeting new people and how volunteering makes me feel.”
Jocelyn delights in her volunteer time reading to elementary schoolers at Cedar Hill. “It makes me feel good about myself because I’m helping other people that need help,” she says. “It’s sweet because the kids read the book to me and I help them sound out the words. I love helping people. It makes me have a better day.”
The collaboration between these volunteers and our community is paving the way for inclusion and showcasing the inherently giving nature of Jefferson City.
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