Volunteer Spotlight – Kelly

“Volunteering is an act of heroism on a grand scale. And it matters profoundly. It does more than help people beat the odds; it changes the odds.” – William J. Clinton

GiGi’s Playhouse is 99% volunteer-led. As an organization, we are extremely proud of this. We are beyond grateful for our amazing volunteers’ dedication, motivation, enthusiasm, and generosity.

GiGIFIT Teen End of session celebration

April is Volunteer Appreciation Month; this is the month that we like to highlight our awesome volunteers and say a HUGE thank you to everyone that makes our Playhouse fantastic.

This week, our spotlight is on Kelly – a volunteer extraordinaire! Kelly began her volunteer journey with us in 2018. During her time with us, she took on various roles, such as Math tutor, Literacy Tutor, Book Club Leader, GiGiFIT Teen leader, Board Member, and Friends, Fun, and Fitness leader.

During the Pandemic, Kelly moved to a new state but continued to lead programs virtually. As her new life began to get busy, she needed to take a break from volunteering. April 4th was Kelly’s last program, we contacted all families that had participated in programs with her over the years to invite them to help us celebrate Kelly! Many sent us their memories, photos, and quotes about Kelly. We used these to create a slideshow we presented during her last program. Kelly’s last Teen Tastic was amazing! We welcomed over 11 participants, and as Kelly said ‘We are getting the band back together!’

Some memories that were shared with us are: ‘Kelly means the whole world to me I’m going to really miss her. I’m glad she’s happy in life. She’s made a tremendous impact on my life; it’s going to be weird without her around I love her so much. She’s been my best friend since the day I met her.’

[Molly, aged 21]

Once, Kelly asked me to go to the Cheesecake Factory with her to celebrate my birthday. It was the best memory. She got me a cheesecake with happy birthday writing on it and that’s never happened to me before. I love being friends with Kelly. She is an amazing fitness instructor. There’s something about her that is so special.

[Casey, aged 23]
Gala 2020

Thank you for being the leader of Teen Tastic. I loved seeing the kids and talking with them. I loved the games we played and calling on the other kids. I loved the time we went to dinner together with
the other girls. You are so nice, and kind and I will really miss you. I hope I can see you again soon.

[Ali, aged 17]
Kelly and Ali

I just want to say that I am so lucky to have known you all my life. You are such an amazing person and you really mean something so special to me. You make my heart smile and thank
you so much for being a part of my whole life
.”

[Ella, aged 23]

Samantha [aged 21] fondly remembers Kelly from when she was piloting the GiGIFit program with Molly. One of the sessions happened to be on Samantha’s birthday, and at the end of the meditation Kelly said ‘Close your eyes’ she started to sing Happy Birthday and surprised her with a big
bag of gummy bears.

I remember Kelly. She Is a beautiful Lady. She was a sweet friend for a long time I remember Kelly Taught me how to squat and do push-ups, planks, and bridges on our backs and knees. She does stretching and meditation. She wants us to write stories in our journals and how we eat and exercise every day! She was a great teacher. And a smart friend. Thank you for everything, Kelly. You are a great person. I did push-ups every day and I did squats and planks and bridges a lot!

[Caileen, aged 21]
Kelly and Caileen

Kelly also greatly impacted the families, Marybeth and Maureen shared some thoughts with us.

I know Kelly often said that when she found GiGi’s Playhouse, she found her people. She really enjoyed interacting with all of the participants. She has been such a wonderful volunteer and will be missed

Marybeth, Board Member and Mom to Samantha.
Connecting with the families.

Just a note to say we were so blessed to have had you lead us at GiGi’s. Your influence has brought our families closer as we shared the GiGifit and Teen Tastic experiences together. You were the “glue” that
kept us returning to GiGi’s. It was such a special time in our kids’ lives – and you were the perfect role model for them (and us.) You have a wonderful talent and a beautiful personality – we wish you much success and happiness in all your future endeavors! We know you will bring a bright light to all you do and a special kindness to all you meet. Thank you for sharing your talents with us and the special time you spent here at GiGi’s with us. I have truly enjoyed our time together.

[Maureen, mom to Caileen]

I have many wonderful memories. The one that always sticks in my mind is when Kelly accompanied us to the National Conference in Chicago, this was just prior to us launching GiGiFIT in our playhouse. Kelly was obviously in her element and I truly believe it was the first time she felt she ‘had found her people’. The conference enthused and motivated her to launch GiGIFIT at our Playhouse. The teenagers made quick progress, becoming stronger and more aware. Kelly has been a huge part of our Playhouse and insisted we kept in contact during those first couple of uncertain weeks when we closed down due to the Pandemic. Kelly was instrumental in helping us to pivot to virtual planning. Kelly, we wish you all the best for the future in beautiful New Hampshire.

[Tracy, Executive Director]

‘I greatly appreciate all the years of service that Kelly provided to GiGi’s Playhouse Westcheter as a program leader, tutor, and Board Member. You could tell quickly how much Kelly cared about our participants and how she wanted the best for them. She always went above and beyond to show our participants and their families love, kindness, and support. Even after moving 150 miles away, she remained an active volunteer and helped on whatever projects she could from a distance. Kelly will be greatly missed at the Playhouse!’

[Jennifer, Board President]

Kelly always brought fun and laughter to GiGi’s. We will deeply miss Kelly but we hope to see her soon!

Kelly always advocated that she may be changing lives volunteering but ultimately her life was hugely impacted by GiGi’s Playhouse Westchester and the families.

Kelly was the recipient of our Outstanding Volunteer award in 2020.

Interested in volunteering? There are many different volunteer opportunities available such as: being a general volunteer assisting our program leaders on virtual or in-person programs; being a program leader; helping to create resources or materials for our programs; assisting with events; reaching out to donors/sponsors; securing auction items for our Gala and being a member of our Board of Directors. We help you to discover the best opportunity for you!

www.gigisplayhouse.org/westchester/volunteer

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