“A Volunteer’s Journey”-GiGi’s Playhouse Phoenix/Scottsdale

GiGi’s Playhouse Phoenix/Scottsdale is so grateful for the exceptional volunteers who have found their way to the Playhouse and the Career Development Center.  Thank you to Christel Baker for submitting her story.

” I am a wife and mother of four wonderful kids. They range in age from fifteen to twenty-five.  My twenty-year-old son is a Type 1 diabetic.  He was diagnosed at the age of three.  It is a disease that never takes a day off and requires me to be his advocate in a world that often doesn’t understand the severity of his disease.  I believe this helps me feel a connection to the families at GiGi’s because every family I meet has had their own triumphs and struggles as they advocate for their child.


      I have worked for the Scottsdale Unified School District as a substitute teacher and para educator since 2008.  When I first began teaching, I was placed frequently in a special needs classroom that I loved.  I found myself missing the students when I wasn’t there.  It was my first indication that teaching special needs students is something I am good at and enjoy.

A little over a year ago, I decided to attend a GiGi’s Playhouse volunteer training session.  I immediately felt at home.  I chose being a literacy tutor as my entrance into the GiGi’s Community.  I enjoyed working with my student and seeing her grow week by week.  When I heard about GiGi Prep and GiGi U, I realized that would be a great fit for me.  I was given the opportunity to “get my feet wet” by planning and co-leading, under Cindy Marie Judy’s guidance, the summer programs for teens and adults. It was a great experience for me to get to know the participants and families and hear what their hopes are for the future.  Planning for GiGi Prep also began over the summer.  There is a lot that goes into launching a new program and I am enjoying helping to mold the program into something GiGi’s Phoenix can be proud of.

I am now the Career Development Coordinator for the first ever GiGi Prep class at the Phoenix area location.  The participants and families are such a pleasure to work with and I am looking forward to meeting more families and hearing their stories.  They are very inspiring, and I am thankful to be a part of something so special.  We are already in the planning phase for GiGi U and I am excited to implement the lessons we have prepared.  This is an exciting time for GiGi’s Phoenix and I am privileged to be a part of it.”



Submitted by:  Christel Baker

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  1. Cindy Marie Judy on September 20, 2018 at 12:01 pm

    The students’ enthusiasm as they enter the room for the class is very evident that you are doing an excellent job creating an atmosphere that embraces and challenges all the students in GiGi Prep! The parents are in awe of the independence their child is showing at home and in the community because of GiGi Prep! Thank you, Christel and the Career Development Team!

  2. Hope Coates on January 6, 2019 at 8:57 pm

    Yeah thank you Christel

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