Volunteer of the Month – Anya

I am a Biomedical Science major with a minor in Public Health at Ohio State University. I am a part of Best Buddies, a group that builds friendships with local individuals with intellectual/developmental disabilities. I am also a member of MEDLIFE, a nonprofit for healthcare in Latin American countries and another service club called Pay It Forward. I am an undergraduate assistant in a research lab and a volunteer at a local hospital. In my free time, I love playing tennis, reading, and watching movies.

I found out about GiGi’s Playhouse in high school when a club I was in made cards for a GiGi’s participant. I loved the organization and waited until applications for the Youth Board were released and then applied.

I have volunteered as a member of the Youth Board and then moved on to virtually tutoring participants in math and literacy.

I started volunteering when I noticed that volunteering at GiGi’s depended on building a connection. While I love community service, GiGi’s was unique from any other experience as it allowed me to see the change created as I built relationships with participants and fellow volunteers.

I chose to continue with GiGi’s because my experiences volunteering in the past were amazing! I loved the people I met and felt I created change through these friendships. While in college, I became more involved in community service and felt a desire to return to one of my most rewarding experiences – GiGi’s Playhouse. Tutoring virtually made volunteering from college easier and fun!

Being a virtual tutor has taught me how to find new ways of teaching, as well as learning, both of which I can apply to other situations. It has taught me how to be more of a listener and to better understand how I can help someone learn. Most importantly, it has helped me realize my love for teaching and tutoring!

A challenge of tutoring virtually is that it can be harder to build a connection. However, I definitely feel that I have built a relationship with everyone I have tutored. Ignoring the technology issues, tutoring virtually is incredibly worth it as it allows me to continue doing what I love from a distance.

I love GiGi’s Playhouse because of the people there. The participants and volunteers all care about one another and work to create a fun environment that benefits all those involved.

My favorite memory from the Playhouse would be the Christmas Drive-Through Parade from a few years ago during the pandemic. It was great to see everyone overcoming the limitations of the pandemic to create an enjoyable experience for everyone.

I would advise a new volunteer to be open to new ideas. Oftentimes, lesson plans change or new ways of teaching are necessary, so it is important to be creative and most importantly, have fun!

As a volunteer, I would tell a new family interested in GiGi’s Playhouse that it is a great community for everyone. There is always something new that participants can enjoy, whether it be an exercise program or a holiday social event. I have made great friendships with participants and have never seen anyone leave GiGi’s without a smile.

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