Written on behalf of Katie Craig, Volunteer and Intern Coordinator at Reality Changers.
In the half year that I have been with Reality Changers, I have been incredibly grateful for my role as the Volunteer & Intern Coordinator and for the incredible people who volunteer with Reality Changers. Of course, my role necessitates working with volunteers, but what it doesn’t necessitate is the ease, energy, joy, and passion I experience with them on a day to day basis. In reflecting on their work I find their collective soul to enrich and expand not only my own work, but that of the entire organization. We cannot and do not exist in the same way without their exuberant, tenacious dedication to our mission and students. In gratitude, I would like to expand on a few of the most prominent qualities our volunteer force embodies.
Joy – On any given program night, the room already buzzes with anticipation. Students bring their own energy to the space ready for what’s to come. When our volunteers arrive–as tutors, mentors, and friends–they match this energy with their infectious joy for the students they work alongside. They show up from their jobs, school, families, and communities with a plethora of reasons to bring those worries, exhaustion, and distractions into Reality Changers, but alongside and above all, they choose joy. And it’s not only amazing, but contagious, empowering, and inspiring.
Tenderness – To be tender is to bend but not break. To feel and respond authentically. To empathize and embrace. Watching volunteers work with Reality Changers students frequently calls tenderness to mind. Reality Changers’ volunteers sit with our students through it all–successes, failures, challenges, growth–with open minds, hearts, and ears. In this they go above and beyond the call to simply complete math problems or edit essays. They connect deeply with students to cultivate mutually life changing relationships.
Adaptability – Even before a pandemic necessitated the complete overhaul of programming, our volunteers have always been nimble, adaptable. This essential trait is by no means an easy one. Changes in staffing, student support, and program expectations keeps volunteers on their toes; yet, their utter graciousness in adapting to these changes is truly invaluable–making a small organization with a big dream survive and thrive in the face of uncertainty.
Tenacity – Reality Changers volunteers stick around. Week after week and year after year, our volunteers stay in the game. Their steady presence creates continuity even in the midst of great change, and knowing we can count on them when it matters means the world to staff and students alike. For those who have been here from 10 months to 10 years, we thank you for your dedication.
In sum, I am led to say without exaggeration: Reality Changers works with the best volunteers in San Diego County. For you who have joined our forces as a tutor, mentor, guest judge, community service member, board member, job shadow week host, event liaison, cabin counselor, and the many, many other roles that you have filled energetically and effortlessly–thank you.