Guest Blogger: Elie Kim, sister of one of our participants and young volunteer for our playhouse- age 16

Axelle Ballarin is an astounding GiGi’s volunteer. As she has volunteered at GiGi’s for almost a few years, Axelle has made a huge impact on the community through her love and enthusiasm with others. Axelle participates as a weekly volunteer in the Drama Troupe Program. She is very active and fun with those around her. As she heads off to college, GiGi’s Playhouse Detroit wishes her the best.  

How did you get involved in GiGi’s Playhouse? 

– I became involved in GiGi’s Playhouse when I was looking for volunteer opportunities online and went in one day for an information session. 

– What is your role at GigGi’s playhouse? 

– My role at GiGi’s Playhouse is a volunteer that works with the participants with our daily activities and programs. I usually help with the Friends Fun and Fitness Program and the Drama Troupe Program. 

– What makes GiGi’s so special to you? 

– I love being able to see the participants and hear about their new updates and see their progress in their activities. It’s so exciting to see all of their hard work pay off! For example, watching everyone work so hard to memorize their lines for their Drama Troupe performance and put on a show was so rewarding and exciting to see!  

– What is the best part about volunteering at GiGi’s? 

– The best part about working at GiGi’s is getting to know the participants on a personal level. I love being able to listen to their stories and hear about all their favorite things. I love being able to see the smile on all of the participants faces when they accomplish something new! For example one of the participants loves to tell me about all of her favorite foods. It may seem like a simple conversation but I enjoy hearing about it all and seeing how excited she gets to tell me about it 

– Other than working with kids with Down Syndrome, do you personally know someone with Down Syndrome (family or friend)? 

– Yes we have multiple family friends that have Down Syndrome. 

– How has volunteering at GiGi’s impacted you? 

– GiGi’s has shown me that there is kindness everywhere! Your kindness, whether it’s a large act or a small one, can greatly affect someone’s day. I learned that it’s important to be the person to encourage others and spread positivity throughout your community. I learned this through GiGi’s because if I was having a bad day and came in to volunteer, my bad mood would quickly go away as all the participants would cheer me up. Another day, one of the parents of one of the participants stopped me at the end of class to give me a smiley face pin because they were so grateful for all of the volunteers help. I realized then how much kindness can help others and make a difference in their day. 

– What are your hobbies or interests? 

– I am apart of a swim team year round, so I love to swim! I’m also apart of my high schools tennis team. I’m in a multitude of clubs and other in school activities! For example, I will be competing in DECA states soon in March! I also love spending time with friends and family!  

– what do you plan on doing in the future? 

– I will be graduating in the spring and will be going to college in the fall! I’m still waiting to hear back from a few colleges so I do not know yet where I will end up, but I am very excited! I plan to major in biology and will be in pre-dental.  

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