GiGi’s Playhouse is powered every day by amazing volunteers. People who have the heart and passion to help change the world, and uplift the lives in their communities.
Volunteers like Kelly Micholson, who has been volunteering in our Hugs and Mugs Café this year. Kelly was so excited to share a little bit about herself and her experience this year at GiGi’s Playhouse!
Kelly’s Background: From a young age, I knew I wanted to work in the medical field but unsure to what degree or really what profession. From about 8 years old, I played competitive ice hockey and that helped me pursue a Health and Human Biology degree from Brown University in 2016. During my time at Brown, I volunteered at a local school working with children on mathematics and reading/literacy skills. In addition, I volunteered to teach children with disabilities how to ice skate and the basic fundamentals of ice hockey. During those summers off from school, I volunteered at a local hospital in their Autism Spectrum Resource Center and was able to gain invaluable insight into ways of helping children express their needs in various ways. Fast forward a few years, now I am currently a second year DPT student at Northwestern University working towards becoming a licensed physical therapist next spring, with hopes of becoming a pediatric physical therapist.
Volunteering at GiGis/How I got involved: Living in the northwest suburbs my whole life, I often passed by Gigi’s Playhouse but had little knowledge of what it was. Following many people on social media, I noticed more and more marketing for GiGi’s especially with people in the healthcare field. Being part of NU, we have the amazing opportunity to choose an organization to volunteer with for a few semesters prior to clinical rotations and I immediately thought of Gigi’s. The COVID-19 pandemic really threw a wrench into some of these plans, but I am so thankful that GiGi’s still allowed me to volunteer and assist the interns in the Hugs and Mugs Cafe. I started volunteering in January and currently volunteer 1 day a week, spending anywhere from 3 to 5 hours with interns working on inventory management, cleaning/sanitizing duties, product development (hot pressing mugs/water bottles), customer service with serving drinks/gelato, and many other things! During all these tasks, we of course laugh and have fun while doing it!
Best Part about GiGis: Volunteering at GiGi’s has truly demonstrated the importance of kindness to one another. The unique personalities of the interns is such a beautiful reminder to also love and accept one another as we are. The interns have also taught me the importance of patience and adaptation. Learning occurs at different rates and requires different modalities and I have truly adopted the learning approach of “I do. We do. You do.” while at GiGi’s but also in personal life. The contagious laughter that is always heard throughout the store is immensely heartwarming and inviting. GiGi’s interns and staff have touched my heart more than I can describe and I hope I have made that impact back. I can truly say GiGi’s Playhouse is a second family to me.
“Thank you so much for giving me this opportunity to share my volunteering experience with GiGi’s Playhouse! I am so incredibly touched by the kindness, warmth, and uplifting spirits of everyone involved with GiGi’s!” – Kelly Micholson
GiGi’s Playhouse exists today through the continued outpouring of generous donations from individuals, foundations, the corporates community, and the efforts of selfless volunteers.
Since we are 99% volunteer run we depend on our volunteers like Kelly who continue to make a difference in the lives of individuals with Down syndrome and our community. Looking to make a difference? Explore the right volunteer opportunity for you HERE!