Volunteer Spotlight: Gerrit Schmidt

Meet GiGi’s NYC volunteer, Gerrit! He has been volunteering with our community for over a year and is currently our Fantastic Friends Program Assistant. Gerrit has been an awesome addition to our team, forming strong bonds with our staff, other volunteers, and our teen and adult participants. He is creative, fun and humorous and even once taught our participants a lesson on how to extract DNA from a banana-how cool is that?! To learn more about him, please read below:

How and when did you first get involved with GiGi’s NYC? I got involved with GiGi´s NYC during the fall of 2022, after I had initially moved to NYC for a year abroad during college. At first I volunteered in the Storybook activity and then continued with Destination Discovery and now Fantastic Friends. 

Why did you decide to volunteer with GiGi’s NYC?  Growing up I was already involved with these kinds of programs in Germany through my sister, so it only seemed natural to me to volunteer at a place here in the city. My youngest sister doesn’t have Down syndrome but has similar experiences when it comes to her cognitive and physical development. Seeing how she is able to live her life and especially how she impacts the lives of people surrounding her, has really shown me the importance of building a community and offering programs for children and young adults and support them to reach whatever goals they may have. 

What do you do as a volunteer? I currently volunteer and help plan Fantastic Friends, which is really one of my favorite activities to do. Seeing everyone participate in their unique way, give each other input, or just be silly with each other is so much fun every time. During one session, we extracted DNA from bananas, which was a blast! Fun experiments like these are not something, even I as someone working in scientific research, gets to do every day. 

What is your favorite thing about the GiGi’s NYC community? I think for me it is the incredible amount of enthusiasm everyone brings to the program. How everyone interacts with respect for each other. Also, snacks are essential! 

How do you enjoy spending your free time? In my free time, I try to find as much time for reading as possible. Some would say I have a problem with buying too many books that I’ll never actually have time to read, but I would say that even if I don’t get to read them immediately it just builds the excitement. And they make for a killer nightstand. 

GiGi’s NYC is so grateful to Gerrit! He is an invaluable member of our community, and we look forward to sharing many more fun and memorable times with him at Fantastic Friends!

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