Thank you so much for your interest in volunteering with Reality Changers! As we are currently expanding and improving our volunteer database, we are unable to accept applications through our website. Instead, please email our Vice President of Staff & Organizational Development Theresa Cunningham directly with the email heading “New Reality Changers Volunteer.” We look forward to hearing from you!
The first memory that sticks out in my mind is with a student I met on my first night volunteering. I was helping this student, I will rename “Rochelle” for confidentiality purposes, work on a leadership presentation. As I later learned, most of the tutoring from Reality Changers is also about mentorship. Even though, a student might not always need your academic support, they need you there every week as a role model who believes they deserve to be a priority. This was the case with Rochelle.
My first night at Reality Changers, I helped her create a presentation, which led to a conversation about her father who had substance-use disorder; the substance being alcohol. We bonded over the fact that I also had a father who had alcohol substance-use disorder, and passed away early in my childhood due to it. The honesty from that conversation enticed me to return the following months, week after week, to support this student in need. My consistency in attending allowed me to gain the trust of the student and challenge her when it came time for one student to participate in speech night.
Public speaking is the number one fear of our modern world, even before death, and this was not news to Rochelle. She was a junior, and avoided speech night every month for the past two and a half school years. However, I reminded her of my support and encouraged her to overcome her fear.
I helped Rochelle develop a speech in our Tuesday night program, called her on FaceTime to practice and provide tips, and showed up early that week to give her a pep talk before she presented to an audience of over fifty people. That night, Rochelle was brought to tears sharing her heartbreaking story of being a child focusing on education coming from a home of substance use and domestic violence, but I was standing in the back of the room, as a point of focus, to help with stage fright. With my encouraging disposition and the supportive applause of her peers, she collected herself and finished her speech.
I brought with me my copy of a Post Secret book. As she was sharing her secrets and some of the deepest stories of her lifetime, I wanted to congratulate her for how brave she was with something she could relate to. I wrote an encouraging message on the front page, and gifted it to her. We developed a close relationship three years ago, and still keep in touch to this day.