The definition of a volunteer is “a person who freely offers to take part in an enterprise or undertake a task.” Yes, you read that right; FREELY offers to take part in a task. A volunteer gives up their time, energy, and so many other priceless parts of themselves to help a cause. GiGi’s is a 99% Volunteer run organization which means that there are 1,000’s of people across the nation FREELY offering their time to help those with Down syndrome. They are spreading a message of acceptance with every smile they give, every lesson they teach, every question they answer, and every loving conversation they have with our families in communities all over the United States (and one in Mexico!). It’s nothing short of a mind-blowing realization of how kind-hearted so many people are to freely give of themselves in this way to GiGi’s mission.
To better understand the minds of our selfless volunteers here at the Raleigh playhouse we will be interviewing some of them and giving them an opportunity to tell you, the curious reader, why volunteering at GiGi’s is something they are FREELY choosing to do and why they keep coming back.
Kellie and Ellery Huffman have been volunteering at GiGi’s for 2 years. They got involved because they joined NCL (a mother-daughter volunteer organization, National Charity Leagure) and another mother/daughter pair asked them if they wanted to volunteer at GiGi’s. Both of them love being around children, so this seemed like a perfect fit. They started out at Destination Discovery, ages 5+ where they planned different activities and stations for the participants to partake in. They then started planning and working with the younger friends in Leaps & Bounds, ages 3-6 while parents got to interact with other parents and share resources, talk, and make new connections. During Covid, they volunteered with virtual programs.
“Seeing how happy the kids are when you are with them is my favorite part. The impact I see from our time spent volunteering is that parents get to connect with other parents of kids with Down syndrome, and seeing the kids get to learn new things every time they come to an activity. Our friends with Down syndrome also get to spend time with peers who are the same age, both groups (kids and volunteers) get to hang out, have fun, and learn from each other. I want everyone to know that people with Down syndrome shouldn’t be treated as less than someone else. They are still smart, caring, funny individuals- they just might need a little extra help to do something. In the end, they are still people, just like everyone else around us.”
Thank you Kellie and Ellery for FREELY giving your time, energy, and hearts to the task at hand at GiGi’s Playhouse, which is to change the way the world views Down syndrome and to send a global message of acceptance for all. You both are truly living that mission each day.