The Definition of the GiGi’s Playhouse Westchester Volunteer

Volunteer/ noun / vol.un.teer / va-len-tir

A person who does work without getting paid to do it.

That is a definition of the word volunteer according to Merriam-Webster. It is an accurate definition, but I think it’s missing an important piece…at least when defining our GiGi’s Playhouse Westchester volunteers.

Volunteerism is a phenomenon. Our volunteers come to the playhouse, do work, and then they thank ME on the way out, and ask when they can come back to do more work. Allow me to give you some examples:

Elena, a local mom, comes to the Playhouse almost every Thursday around 12:00pm to clean. Elena tackles our floors. She vacuums, then scrubs out any sticky spots, and then mops. After that she completely sanitizes our downstairs bathroom to perfection. This process takes about an hour and Elena is sweating. When she is finished, she thanks ME, and confirms for the following Thursday to do this all over again.

We ran our first official Clean Team last night. Local teens, Elizabeth and Jesse, came to task! They cleaned for an hour, but there good music blasting…haha! I gave them a list of things to accomplish and before the hour was over they completed each list item. When they left they thanked me and asked when they could come back.

Clean team 4.26.16

Our physical therapist, Nicole, and our occupational therapist, Marcela both work full time jobs. They have been running our Leaps and Bounds program since we opened in August. They spend several hours preparing for this monthly program that focuses on gross motor and fine motor growth for our 3-6 year old participants. They come to the playhouse by 9:00am for set-up, work the program from 9:30-11:00am, then do clean-up and have a post program meeting, wrapping up around 12:00pm.  They have worked all morning for our community and yet they thank ME when they leave.

Leaps and Bounds Naomi Ellovich on ball 4.30.16

Being an organization that is 99% volunteer run, I could add hundreds of examples like the ones listed above. In the 8 months we have been open we have logged 1,747 volunteer hours! That’s an average of 218 volunteer hours per month!

What is it about GiGi’s Playhouse Westchester that makes our volunteers want to come back time and time again? Is it our beautiful community of participants and their families? Is it our cheerful Playhouse? Is it that priceless feeling they get when they make a special connection with another person? Is it the knowing that they are contributing to making our community a better place, one connection at a time? I would say it’s a big YES to all of the above. Giving truly IS receiving, which explains why our volunteers thank me on their way out. They are really thanking our organization for giving them the chance to do this work and feel so good. Our volunteers receive satisfaction, and leave with a full heart.Dance troop 4.26.16

So what is The Merriam Webster definition of volunteer missing when it comes to the GiGi’s Playhouse Westchester volunteer? It’s missing “and when the volunteer is finished with that work, he or she feels ten times better than they did before.” 

Interested in volunteering at GiGi’s Playhouse Westchester? Click here

colorful hands with hearts 4.27.16





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