Volunteer Spotlight: Joelle Stempnik

Guest Blogger: Elie Kim, volunteer and sister of participant – age 16

It is our great honor to interview Joelle Stempnik, who recently joined our team as a program volunteer and tutor with GiGi’s Playhouse Detroit. Joelle is a junior at Wayne State University and plans to get her Masters degree in Speech-Language Pathology; specializing in working with children. We are thrilled to be part of Joelle’s career aspirations through volunteering. Please take a moment to get to know Joelle below!

How did you get involved with GiGi’s Playhouse Detroit?

My involvement with GiGi’s Playhouse began when an organization I’m a part of at Wayne State University, called Caring Hands, hosted an event there. It was a blanket-making activity we facilitated right around Thanksgiving, and it absolutely warmed my heart. Witnessing the vibrant energy and warmth of the community at GiGi’s inspired me to get more involved.

What is your role at GiGi’s Playhouse?

I actively participate in programs like Leaps and Bounds and Art Explosion, where I engage with the participants in various activities. Additionally, I serve as a literacy tutor, helping students develop essential reading skills. Over the summer, I plan to volunteer with Open Play as well.

What makes GiGi’s so special to you?

GiGi’s Playhouse holds a special place in my heart because of the participants there! The unwavering positivity, resilience, and enthusiasm I have witnessed here is incredibly inspiring. Every interaction fills me with joy and reaffirms my passion for volunteering.

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

The most rewarding aspect of volunteering at GiGi’s is witnessing the growth and progress of the individuals. Whether it’s seeing them achieve a developmental milestone, improve their communication skills, or simply express themselves freely, each small victory is incredibly fulfilling. I cherish the opportunity to build meaningful connections and engage in exciting conversations with each person I meet as well! I can always count on leaving GiGi’s in a good mood!

Other than working with individuals with Down syndrome, do you personally know someone with Down syndrome (family or friend)?

While I don’t have personal connections with individuals with Down syndrome outside of GiGi’s Playhouse, my experience volunteering there has allowed me to form meaningful relationships with the participants and their families.

How has volunteering at GiGi’s impacted you?

Volunteering at GiGi’s has had a profound impact on me personally. It has brought immense joy and fulfillment into my life, reminding me of the importance of compassion, empathy, and community. It has also deepened my understanding of the challenges faced by individuals with Down syndrome.

How do you think you have impacted others?

Through my dedication and involvement at GiGi’s Playhouse, I hope to have made a positive difference in the lives of the particpants and their families. Whether it’s through providing support, encouragement, or simply being a source of positivity and companionship, I hope to leave a lasting impact on those I interact with.

What are your hobbies or interests?

In addition to volunteering at GiGi’s, I love spending quality time with my family and friends. I also enjoy painting, listening to music, and volunteering elsewhere! 

Many thanks, Joelle, from all of us at GiGi’s Playhouse Detroit!

Our volunteers mean the world to us!

If you’ve been thinking about getting involved with GiGi’s Playhouse Detroit, now is the time! There are countless ways to support, from assisting with group programs, 1:1 tutoring, joining a committee, and more! All skillsets are welcome, and any amount of time you can give will be appreciated. You can find out more info HERE.

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