This weekend I went on a weekend Alternative break to Flint, Michigan. The Alternative breaks program at CMU is to provide a way for students to volunteer for issues they are passionate about. I heard about it and knew I had to try it out. My issue was youth at risk and we volunteered at Whaley Children’s Center. Whaley’s is a place that can hold up to 48 at risk children who have suffered severe trauma in their lives such as abuse or neglect. The staff’s goal is to help them cope with their experiences and find a new home when they are ready At the center there is a school, a residence and recreation building, and administrative building.
With our time at Whaley we helped paint a fitness room and some offices. Though this was indirect service it was still very rewarding because I knew with my effort the employees would be able to spend more time focusing on their job rather than the looks of the building. Hearing stories from the development director Dawn you could tell she was very passionate about her job. She shared a time when a boy named Joey wanted her to go to his basketball game. Even though she had to be home with her family, she decided to be late and support the young boy. He kept looking back at her during the game to make sure she was watching. All these young kids want is someone to love them and that’s exactly what Dawn showed by cheering him on.
We also got to interact with the children a bit which opened my eyes to Whaley a bit more. These kids are just like any other kids but have issues they deal with whether that is anger, fear, or something else. It’s frustrating to me how parents treat their children but I hope Whaley will help break that generational trend. The center really needs help by donations, volunteers, mentors and many other things I would love to go back and volunteer at Whaley again!