Every month here at Playtime, we spend some time chatting over the most incredible things our volunteers have done that month, the ways they've gone above and beyond the call of duty, and who truly epitomizes the term "hero of play." Then, we pick a Volunteer of the Month for each of our programs. So, without further ado, let us introduce our Turning Point Volunteer of the Month!
Meet Tamar Prince, our March 2020 Volunteer of the Month for DASH!
Though she's only been a Play Ranger for a short time, Tamar Prince has made a huge impact on our program at DASH. Her leadership and commitment to forming relationships with every child so impressed Site Manager Ron Sheffer that he wanted to recognize her as a March Volunteer of the Month.
"When Tamar first started volunteering as a Play Ranger, she was immediately focused on developing a relationship with the children. She committed to learning everyone’s name and at least one fun fact," Ron said. "What I appreciate most about Tamar is her willingness to share her talents, whether it is coming up with an icebreaker, teaching a new game, or helping with homework. She is always super encouraging and works very hard at making sure the children have a positive experience."
Keep reading below for a Q&A with Tamar.
When you walk into the playroom with a blue play ranger volunteer shirt on, you automatically become someone the kids look up to, and that is a powerful feeling.
-Playtime Project Volunteer of the Month Tamar Prince
When and why did you start volunteering with Playtime?
I started volunteering with Playtime in October of 2019. After my first year of living in D.C., my monotonous and not-so-purposeful routine became boring, and I searched for an opportunity to work with the community and give back. Working with kids is a passion of mine, and I wanted to use my time volunteering to help others. The Playtime Project was a perfect match for me. Having worked with kids from ages 12 to 15 as a camp counselor, I look forward to seeing the preteens every Wednesday. Our games, activities, and meaningful conversations are often the highlight of my week.
How has volunteering with Playtime affected you?
There is something so special about having the respect and admiration of a child, and the love I feel from the kids I work with has deeply affected me. I am moved by my kids’ resilience and their strength in overcoming hardship and trauma. Playtime has taught me that these children are no different from any other child and that children living in temporary housing unfortunately miss out on parts of childhood that I once took for granted. I love being the kids’ cheerleader at any chance I get and learning about their interests and goals. Our time together makes life more joyful and silly, which I forget to be sometimes as a working professional. Volunteering has taught me to be a more compassionate and open-minded person, especially in my mindset towards homelessness.
Can you share a memorable moment you've had as a Play Ranger?
The other week the kids had February break and were given homework to do for their time off. One of the girls asked for my help on her math homework, which turned into a “homework party”. Three more girls then wanted help on their homework, so we used a desk to create a homework area. We spent the whole playtime doing homework (which is more fun than it sounds, I promise), and it was incredible to see how dedicated and driven the kids were in completing their assignments. They got so excited to learn. Another memorable moment was when I brought in dreidls and gelt for Hannukah and taught the kids how to play the game, about my religious identity, and about the holiday!
What else do you want people to know about your work with Playtime?
Playtime has made my life in D.C. so incredibly meaningful. It is so easy to cut out two hours of your week to give back to the community as a volunteer. Playtime is a great way to connect with kids who want to have fun and who want a relationship with you. When you walk into the playroom with a blue Play Ranger volunteer shirt on, you automatically become someone the kids look up to, and that is a powerful feeling. I moved here a year and a half ago and felt like my life lacked meaning. Volunteering with Playtime has brought me so much perspective, fulfillment, and love. I’m so grateful for my kids and that I found Playtime a few months ago.
If you could have any super power, what would it be?
My most desired super power would be to fly. I like to move quickly from place to place and have become quite a quick speed walker in the city. Sometimes I wish I could just fly to where I needed to be because it would make a commute so much easier and would be a great way to avoid DC traffic. It would also fuel my ability to explore parts of D.C. that are far from where I live and parts of the world that I’m dying to visit one day.