Racing Raindrops: Volunteering & my buddy with special needs
A few months back volunteers from Friendship Circles all across the world were asked to submit an essay explaining why they take the time to volunteer with children who have special needs. Many impressive entries were submitted. Below is one of the winning essays written by Rosa Katz of Cleveland Ohio.
My three siblings and I spent a lot of time in the backseat of our family’s minivans. We didn’t live near family, so most of our vacations began and ended with long car rides to visit relatives. There were the usual card games, movies and bickering over space that passed the time; but one of my most vivid memories is that of driving in the rain-it created our favorite game. We would race raindrops on the large clear windows of the mini-van. I loved to watch the raindrops make patterns as they fell against the glass. They travelled along the window, colliding, merging and finally breaking apart – each taking a part of the other as they continued along their path. Later in life, this simple childhood game made me think of a bigger idea-the concept of exchanging a part of yourself with another along your path-giving something, taking something in return, and continuing on, changed by the experience.
That’s what brings me to David, a four-year-old boy with severe autism, whom I met three falls ago. I began volunteering with, The Friendship Circle, a program which gave me the opportunity to work with David every
Sunday. It didn’t start out very promising. David was non-verbal and those early meetings were difficult – tantrums, anger and confusion-but over the weeks and months, I eventually earned his trust and ultimately his affection.
Every Sunday I tell David what he means to me; that his smile makes me smile. Through the stresses of a week in high school it is easy to lose track of what is truly important in life. Every Sunday, David reminds me of the value of love. I wait for him to burst through the doors, eyes searching for the familiar, for him to meet my gaze, and finally for him to latch on to my legs, finding security in my presence. His crying transformed to hugging and, more recently, giving me a kiss on the cheek. Three years later, David remains non-verbal; however, we have established our own ways of communication and this represents the great strides we have made together.
David is a raindrop in my life. He and I were lucky to collide paths through The Friendship Circle; however, we know our time to split is coming fast. Each Sunday, David gives me a hug and kiss goodbye just the same way that he came in, but I also confirm that we will see each other again the following week. I have started to talk to David about my absence next year. I tell him that it is he who has had a major influence on me; David has helped me to learn the value of helping others. As our paths separate, I will take with me these lessons and apply them in my career as a nurse. While I know that leaving David will be hard, I cannot wait to find my next raindrop and for David to find his.