As the Volunteer Coordinator for Rainbows United, I have the privilege of working with some of the most amazing, positive, giving people in the community. In this role, my days are filled with questions such as “How can I help?” “What do the children need?” “How can I make a difference?”
I have always held a firm belief that people want to help. They just don’t always know how. My job is to create opportunities and experiences that make it possible for others to share the joy found through volunteering.
The last couple of years are a testament to the resilience of Rainbows’ volunteers. When we closed access to our facilities to keep our children, families and staff as safe as possible, volunteers stepped up to sew masks, cot sheets and pillows from their homes. Businesses filled hundreds of individual bottles with hand sanitizer and created appreciation gifts for our staff who continued to provide services to our children and families throughout the pandemic. Our volunteers stayed engaged.
In recent months, we have again opened our doors to volunteers who have been vaccinated, welcoming them into the classrooms to read, build and learn with our children. Our playground is once again filled with the laughter of volunteers and children playing together. Our children are delighted to again be meeting “new best friends”.
Jana Day, Honorary Commander of the 349th Air Refueling Squadron, owner of Dunkin franchises and good friend of Rainbows, facilitated a relationship between the Airmen and Rainbows that has led to new experiences for both active duty military personnel and Rainbows’ children. Dedicated Airmen far from home serving at McConnell Air Force Base come to Rainbows dressed in their fatigues and interact with the children through play.
During their most recent visit, as part of construction play these inspirational heroes helped a class of 2-year-olds “build” with boxes, using plastic tools such as levels, screws and screw drivers. Two-year-old Hollie, a future leader for sure, was immediately drawn to the female officer in the group. When it was explained that Lieutenant Colonel Maureen Tanner was the Commander of the 349th Air Refueling Squadron and Hollie could also one day be a leader like her, a serious expression crossed Hollie’s face and she said, “Oh, yes.”
Young and older, our volunteers come to us in search of answers to their questions of how to help, what the children need, and how to make a difference. The joy they bring to the children, whether by playing or planting flowers, blowing bubbles, reading or making soft pillows for a child’s head, are what the children need. Individually and in large groups, our volunteers come to us and make a difference in the lives of our children and families and they experience the joy found through volunteering.
Thank you to every one of you. “The true meaning of life is to plant trees, under whose shade you do not expect to sit.” —Nelson Henderson
To volunteer at Rainbows, please contact Melani Kliewer, Volunteer Coordinator, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Enjoy this video of the Airmen volunteering at Rainbows and hear why they think it’s important.