This week is National Volunteer Week, an opportunity to celebrate the impact of volunteer service and highlight the volunteers who give of themselves selflessly to help build stronger communities and families.
This week, we wanted to introduce you to Lauren James, a high school student in Longview, Texas, who volunteers with Buckner in Longview and works hard to help the families Buckner serves through babysitting children while their parents attend educational courses at the Buckner Family Hope Center or during Buckner Project HOPES meetings. She also works with Athletes Who Care collecting backpacks and stuffed animals for children served through Buckner Foster Care.
Read why Lauren steps out of her comfort zone to care for children and how doing so brings her a new perspective on the families Buckner serves and her outlook on helping people.
As a student volunteer, my job is to care for the toddlers and young children while their parents attend educational meetings. I make it my mission to be the first to introduce myself to a child and the last to say goodbye.
My involvement with these children began when my mom approached me about an issue that had been heavy on her heart. Three years ago, we were cleaning out closets and found we had an overabundance of backpacks from my athletic endeavors. We decided that these backpacks could serve a much greater purpose when enjoyed by at-risk children. We contacted our friends, who contacted their friends, and we compiled many backpacks that could be redistributed to those in need within our community. Thus, our organization, Athletes That Care, was born and our involvement led us to a connection with Project HOPES.
When I attended our first collaborative event, I was not sure what it entailed and was nervous about how the children would interact with me. Historically, I had not been drawn to caring for younger children, so my expectations were quite low.
I was wrong in the best way possible.
Honestly, that first day has changed me forever, and I have eagerly attended every meeting with these kids since July 2017. Every time I am with them, I want to give 150% of my attention and love to each and every one of them. I do my best to “over-deliver” at each of these events, because I know that my eagerness can serve as a happy moment for them in a period of struggle.