Last semester I was pushed out of my comfort zone volunteering at the Arc, though COVID-19 cut it short I was eager to try and return this year. That ultimately was unable to happen, I found ways to continue volunteering in my hometown of Biloxi, where I spent time this semester. I have often volunteered at local elementary schools helping kids read; however, this semester I wanted to continue to move outside of my comfort zone.
I volunteered at Biloxi Junior High every Friday at 10 am for their PBIS (Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports) break. The children who attend these breaks from class have been recognized for being role models to peers, participating in class, and being all-around exemplary students. They can purchase snack and drinks or just enjoy a quick break from instruction with their peers. My role in this was helping purchase, organize, plan, budget, and of course hand out the snacks.
Though this setting was more in my comfort zone, the level of responsibility was not one I had experienced while volunteering. I was one of the only people who set up and was in charge of this every week. Many of the students always looked forward to PBIS breaks at the end of the week so I knew I had to make sure everything was prepared. Completing a PBIS break for middle school kids is a challenge regularly, not to mention during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Volunteers were asked by the PTA to sign up on Facebook and usually one person would sign up and only occasionally would they come. This just reaffirmed to me the importance of commitments you make. Not to mention, be prepared for any and every situation and scenario that can possibly happen. While in the end I and other teachers and PTA organizers were able to make it work, we would have definitely appreciated the extra help. However, I do see the concern with being at a school during COVID-19. It was all around a great experience that gave me helpful insight in how to plan, budget, and organize events. This is something I had never before done and I feel will be useful in the future. It just makes it all the more worthwhile that I learned these skills while providing students with a reward to continue to be high achieving and investing in their future and in education.
Cecelia Powell is a junior Luckyday Scholar majoring in nursing.