Since my first geocaching session at Francis King Regional Park, each program I have volunteered on has further fueled my passion and I am excited to take my next steps towards becoming an occupational therapist. Specifically, it has been the people, our adventures, and the lessons that I have learned that cemented my desire for a career where I can work with people to unearth all sorts of possibilities in their lives.
The people make Power To Be. On my first volunteer shift in the office, all the staff were so kind and filled with laughs. I instantly felt extremely welcome and relaxed. Everybody was grateful for even the smallest bit of help and it was fun to assist with the various projects. When I started volunteering on programs, it was sweet to see the impact of some of these projects. From singing and cracking pirate jokes in canoes, to watching the feet of sand dollars wiggle to and fro and raindrops shimmering across Killarney Lake, it was wonderful to see the excitement in everyone’s eyes and the beautiful calm as we all got outside in nature and had adventures. The high fives, stories, curiosity, laughs, creativity, peacefulness, smiles, and teamwork; those will always be the brightest roses for me.
As a volunteer, I tried to learn something from each program so that I could improve what I was able to offer for the next one. There was one lesson that really stuck out for me: listen deeply. When I first started volunteering with climbing programs, I naively made the assumptions that even if it wasn’t on that day, everyone wanted to eventually be able to climb to the top of the wall. Boy was I wrong!
I was working with a participant with communication and mobility barriers and we were using the three-way pulley system. I kept squatting to boost them up to the just-out-of-reach holds and get to the top of the wall. After a couple runs it was time for a break and I learned that the participant didn’t want to get to the top of the wall. They wanted to get a workout with as few boosts from me as possible. Not only had I assumed that the participant’s goal was to make it to the top of the wall, but I had also assumed that since they used the three-way pulley system, they needed the boosts for the holds that were out of reach. I vowed that I would always get to know the participants, their support wants/needs, and their goals better first so that I would hopefully never make that mistake again. After that the participant had a more authentic experience of what they were looking for in the program, and that’s way more important than ringing the bell.