Volunteer of the Month – Alyssa!

Math. Not everyone’s favorite subject. A subject that some students may begrudgingly walk towards. Not Josie though. Josie RUNS into the Playhouse, into the arms of Alyssa – her math tutor, who greets Josie with a “GOOD MORNING, BEAUTIFUL” and a big hug. This embrace jumpstarts the tutoring session and envigorates Josie to learn, grow, and achieve. This excitement has not always been the case for Josie, but because of Alyssa and the intentional rapport she curated, Josie is excited to count money, work on her addition, strengthen time skills, and of course, have some added dance breaks on the stage. We have witnessed the impact Alyssa has on Josie’s success, and because of that – Alyssa was chosen as our Volunteer of the Month. We invite you to learn more about Alyssa, and we hope you sense the love and joy she pours into her time at the Playhouse.

Josie’s mom, Jen shares: “Alyssa and Josie met at the beginning of this summer’s tutoring session. From the first day, Josie renamed tutoring days, “Alyssa Day!” Watching Alyssa’s patience, perseverance, and overall positivity when she and Josie are working together is fantastic!  Alyssa encourages and pushes Josie to work harder and longer and that means she gets to learn more! She does this with the right balance of fun and doing it in ways that work so well for Josie and the ways she learns best. 

Alyssa’s energy and positivity levels match Josie’s and the enthusiasm both of them show when they first see each other on Monday mornings carries through the whole session. An added plus is that Josie is carrying over what she is learning with Alyssa about time and eagerly tells us what time it is and how we are going to be running late! She practices what she is learning about money when we go to the store. 

Alyssa has such as positive impact on Josie not only academically, but in creating a bond that will hopefully last long after this tutoring session ends!

We invited Alyssa to share more about herself and how she got involved with GiGi’s Playhouse Cleveland!

Tell us about yourself! What is your educational background, favorite sports teams, hobbies, favorite food, etc!

I am a D1 Track and Field athlete at Duquesne University. I played volleyball for 9 years prior to running collegiate track full-time, and have been running for going on 10 years now. I am going into my senior year of undergrad as a Psychology Major with a minor in Women and Gender Studies. I love to color, weightlift, and swim for fun. I am also in the process of teaching myself Spanish! I am a shoe lover as well. Sneakers are my favorite thing to collect and wear. Being an employee of Nike also helps with that obsession! 

How did you find out about GiGi’s Playhouse?

I got involved with GiGi’s just by looking up volunteer opportunities on the internet. My mom was helping me look for places she thought I’d like and I read up on the Playhouse and knew it would be a perfect fit for me. I have only been involved since May!

Why did you start volunteering at GiGi’s Playhouse?

I started volunteering because working with kids has always been something I’m passionate about. I have also worked with individuals with Down syndrome while in middle school and high school and it was a great experience. Working with them now, as well as getting a degree in Psychology, is amazing and shines a new light on the interactions I am able to have. 

What do you love about volunteering at the Playhouse?

What I love most about GiGi’s Playhouse is the environment. The Playhouse is extremely welcoming, open, colorful, and fun. There is always something going on and an abundance of ways to keep the individuals who come in entertained, excited, and motivated. 

What is your favorite memory at the Playhouse?

My favorite memory at the Playhouse is the tutoring session after I came back from my family vacation. Josie ran into my arms and hugged me as tight as she possibly could. The amount of warmth that filled my body was incredible. She told me how much she missed me and was so happy to be back in the Playhouse with me. Mrs. Jen said she would not stop talking about how much she wanted to see me while I was away.

What is one piece of advice you’d give to a new volunteer?

One piece of advice I’d give to a new volunteer is to adapt to the person. Everyone in the Playhouse is unique and when it comes to tutoring specifically, they learn differently. The way you interact with one person, may not be how you interact with the next. Be flexible, caring, and open to new ideas. 

As a volunteer, what is one thing you’d say to a new family who is curious about GiGi’s Playhouse!

One thing I’d say to a new family is “bonds are valued”. With GiGi’s being mainly volunteer-run and supported, you know there are people in the Playhouse who genuinely want to be there and spend their time there. They are creating relationships that last for a lifetime.

Thank you Alyssa for shining your light on Josie and the Playhouse! We see how your impact radiates and touches all those you connect with!

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