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BY Jamie

Living And Giving

Jamie Volunteering

Jamie Volunteers at "Torah Circle" with her special friend

“We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.”- Winston Churchill. I have heard this quote many times before in my life, but I started to understand the true meaning of it this year.  As a little girl I always imagined myself having a job where I could make a lot of money so that I could buy everything I would ever want.  I continuously brainstormed possible future professions that would make this vision possible, but I became discouraged because I could not think of one that suited my personality.  As a naïve child, I assumed that being rich was most important in this world. I thought money was what brought happiness, power and success to the human race.

When I was in 6th grade I decided I wanted to volunteer my time at The Friendship Circle.  This was a program that allowed children to help others with special needs.  When I was eleven years old I was paired up with one specific child I would always be with when I volunteered.  Everything was so new to me.  I had never been in an atmosphere before surrounded by so many children that were different from me.  At first I did not know what to do or how to react when I was told to go play with a stranger with special needs for two straight hours.  I was afraid.  As I continued going to The Friendship Circle every Sunday, I began to feel differently.  I was no longer nervous; in fact, I looked forward to going every week.  Weeks, months, and years went by as I continued working with the same girl.  The Friendship Circle began to feel like my home away from home.  The joy I got from volunteering my time with her was remarkable.   Her laughter would make me laugh; her smile would make me happy; her success would make me proud.  Spending so much quality time with her made me realize she was no longer just a girl I would hang out with when I volunteered; she was my friend.

As I walked through the doors every Sunday, I was ecstatic to see her huge smile lighting up the room. Her arms were always open waiting to give me a big hug.  Then it hit me. Not only did she brighten my days, but I brightened hers. There was never a dull moment; we were always smiling, laughing, and having an unforgettable time.  She would call me her best friend.  When I heard her call me her best friend, I realized how much of an impact I had on her life.  I was a friend to her when it was hard for her to make friends.  I had the power to make her a happier person; I had the power to make a difference.

After realizing how much joy I have gotten out of volunteering my time with special needs kids, I now know that this is something I always want to continue doing.  I do not want this incredible journey to end once I graduate high school.  After thinking long and hard, I decided I want to be an occupational therapist when I grow up.  My best friend at The Friendship Circle helped me figure out who I am as a person.  She made me realize how to be successful in life.  I started spending more time at The Friendship Circle once I knew that this was the field that best suited me.  Volunteering six hours a week throughout my junior year made me certain that this career would be a perfect fit for me.

Money may bring happiness, power and success to some people, but not me. Money will help me make a living, but making a difference in the world by giving to others is how I hope to spend the rest of my life.  It is now certain to me that I was put in this world to help make a difference in the lives of others.  Volunteering at The Friendship Circle for the past five years gave me an experience that has changed my life and the life of my special friend. I have become a happier and stronger person who found my passion in life-the passion of giving to others.

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Written on April 29, 2010 by:

Jamie is one of Friendship Circle's dedicated volunteers and participates in the weekly Torah Teens program. In addition Jamie is part of a select group of volunteers that are being trained by a Play Therapist to better interact with children who have special needs.

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