April is volunteer appreciation month! We truly could not provide safe spaces and opportunities to youth in crisis throughout Northern Virginia without YOUR support. Our dedicated volunteers give of their time and resources everyday. Just last year 1,821 volunteers gave 14,228 hours of their time to help us fulfill our mission.
This month we’re recognizing just a few dedicated volunteers by asking them why they believe in Second Story.
Tony’s Story, Second Story for Teens in Crisis
“Helping at the Second Story Teen Shelter seems almost like helping my family. The facility is actually a home. I also enjoy the pace of activity. The boys and girls receive shelter, support and counseling for just three weeks. The separation from parents or guardians calms tensions that are common, and since the adults also receive counselling, when reunited, both have a better understanding of underlying issues and empathy for each other.
The Teen Shelter structures every hour of the day, joining troubled kids together that had not met before. The counselors are caring and supportive, but not pushovers. I get to be with teens that often thrive on the rigorous routine and interactions with others like themselves who can best share their stories. I get to be with bright, hardworking, always cheerful staff.
By assisting as I best can, usually making needed repairs, I leave every visit knowing that my efforts allow the Second Story counselors to have more time doing what they do so very well, nurturing troubled, good-hearted teens. I leave feeling refreshed and happier.”
Husayn Tavangar, Second Story for Teens in Crisis
“I volunteer at the Second Story’s Teen Shelter to help, in anyway that I can, further its critically important mission of caring for teens in crisis. The highlight of my volunteering experience is spending time with and getting to know the teen residents. I enjoy learning about their passions, dreams and hopes, and I aim to provide encouragement. The teens show tremendous courage and resilience in the face of serious struggles. This motivates and inspires me to improve upon myself and find new ways to serve others.”
Ron’s Story, Second Story in the Community
“Why DO I volunteer at the Teen Center two days a week from 4:00 to 9:00…for the last six years? That’s a good question, one that I haven’t really given too much thought to. Though I enjoy kids and being around children, there’s more to it than just that. I’m sure it goes back to my own childhood, which was not without its painful times. I was always the smallest boy in my class and I suffered from a nervous facial tic, which, of course, earned me the nickname, “Twitch.” I was bullied and grew up with ever-shrinking self-esteem. As a teenager, I was pretty lonely, with almost no friends to speak of. And girls were a different species altogether! Growing up in a “children-should-be-seen-and-not-heard” family where it was frowned on to bring up problems meant that I got no support on the homefront.
Though, in retrospect, there were a couple of teachers and a wrestling coach who tried to break through my defenses, it was to no avail…at that time. Many years later, I realized what they had been doing and I think they did have a positive impact on me, subconsciously. Which is why, I think, I find satisfaction in volunteering with children and teenagers. I want to be at least one example of a caring adult in their lives. Most of the teens at the Culmore Teen Center have difficult lives. Economically, their families are just barely surviving. Consequently, in addition to attending school full time, many of the kids work 20-40 hours a week at construction jobs or cleaning office buildings at less than minimum wage.
So I like being an encouraging presence in their lives. I help them with homework, listen to their problems, read with them, and beat them at pool! Overall, I find volunteering with these teenagers very satisfying. And I hope that they find value in it as well.”
Jan’s Story, Second Story in the Community
“Leslie [Program Coordinator at the Springfield Safe Youth Project] is very nice and easy to work with. The students are cute in their interactions with each other and us, and really polite — lots of thank you’s. I’m glad to help Leslie with her various tasks including getting snacks together and helping the kids with their homework…I’m impressed with the program she is providing and the warm, respectful environment she has established.”
*Photos by Don Fowler and Second Story.