Since its founding in 2003, Playtime has been volunteer driven. Today, Playtime is fortunate to have over 150 volunteers who dedicate their time to our programs. They show up to our playrooms every week to support positive emotional development for one of the most vulnerable populations in the District and Prince George’s County. Our volunteers make a commitment to running one of our six play programs at our partner sites, and we could not provide Playtime without them.
All of our volunteers are rock stars, but we are taking a moment to highlight two of our awesome volunteers at My Sister’s Place shelter. As we worked to hire more staff to support our programs, our volunteers helped keep the program at My Sister’s Place running after the previous site manager left for graduate school in April.
Playtime has worked diligently to establish a trustworthy presence with families at our partner sites, so it’s important that we show up consistently. My Sister’s Place volunteers have made sure we’ve been able to do just that during this time of transition.
Leakhena Chen is a longtime volunteer who has been a tremendous help at My Sister’s Place over the last few weeks especially. Leakhena stepped up to help run program every Wednesday, despite having taken a break volunteering to finish her graduate program. Wanting to help others and do something that aligned with her values, Leakhena began volunteering with Playtime in the summer of 2019 at the Days Inn playroom. She also volunteered at the Quality Inn shelter before moving to My Sister’s Place. These facilities were the largest family shelter settings in the District for many years after DC General closed. “Helping others really gives you perspective and allows you to be grateful for what you have,” said Leakhena. When asked about the best part of volunteering with Playtime, Leakhena said, “watching the kids get excited to see you and knowing that you’re making their day.”
The team of My Sister’s Place volunteers not only shows up for and supports the children, but they also assist parents and families. Recently, a Spanish-speaking immigrant family moved into My Sister’s Place, presenting a challenge for the English-speaking staff and volunteers to overcome the communications barrier. The eldest daughter, five-year-old “Amelia,” began coming to Playtime, but her mother did not bring her baby brother, seven-month-old “Donny,” thinking he was too young. Volunteer Susannah Perkins, who had previously used her Spanish skills to help the mom fill out Playtime registration forms for Amelia, was able to converse with her and make sure she knew that Donny could also come to our program. Lately, Donny has been coming to the weekly program on a regular basis. Susannah not only ensures Amelia is able to communicate with everyone in the playroom, but she was also able to make sure Donny joined in on the fun. She continues to be a vital translator for Playtime and the family, and this mom is able to enjoy the break that Playtime provides for parents!
We are so grateful for Leakhena, Susannah, and all our fantastic, dedicated, and compassionate volunteers who go above and beyond the call of duty every week to ensure that we can give the gift of play to children experiencing homelessness across the District and Prince George’s County.
If you know anyone who is interested in volunteering and making a difference in a child’s life, please share our Volunteer Training Calendar or email firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more!