Written by Sidni Garwood, Volunteer Coordinator
As our Mission Statement says, Rainbows brings together community resources to benefit children with special needs. Because volunteers are a resource of our community, they are a fundamental part of our mission here at Rainbows.
“I would definitely recommend volunteering at Rainbows,” said Alexia Duling. Alexia, a 16 year old sophomore at Bishop Carroll High School, spent four days a week volunteering at Rainbows’ Camp Woodchuck this summer. “I first heard about Rainbows United from my mom,” she said. “Because I like working with children, she suggested that I check it out. This really sparked my interest in getting involved with Rainbows.” Alexia’s volunteer role consisted of setting up games, preparing rooms for specific Camp activities, assisting on field trips, and helping in the rooms by reading to the children. “I loved seeing the kids smile as they played the games I set up,” said Alexia.
Alexia is not the only local student to devote time and energy in support of Rainbows’ mission. Each year, Rainbows and a student group from Wichita Collegiate School are paired for a time of reading, storytelling, and conversation. This year, these students donated nearly sixty new picture books and a collection of gently used books to be distributed amongst Rainbows’ facilities.
“Rainbows has a long tradition of providing quality services to families in need. Its reputation is well known and respected throughout the community,” said Lori Primm, a Wichita Collegiate teacher and the primary coordinator for this volunteer project. “We chose to visit the facility on Oliver because it is the Rainbows location in closest proximity to our campus. This facility is a beautiful example of a nurturing environment with its caring staff, inspiring quotes on the walls, soothing colors, and numerous windows showcasing the outdoors.”
Lori believes that one of the most important things to teach children is empathy. “These kinds of experiences do just that,” she said. “Collegiate students have been taught to think outside the box. They believe that they can make a difference in their community, recognize the importance of developing empathy, and desire to use their talents and energies to create a better world for everyone,” she said.
Like Lori, Fil Folden also sees the significance of investing in children. “I believe that children are the future of the world, so anything I and my family can do to help children, in every possible way, is very important to us,” she said. Fil began volunteering for Rainbows when her family moved to Wichita from Ohio. Currently, Fil’s volunteer role varies from visit to visit. She helps however and whenever is needed. She has assisted Rainbows’ staff with mailings, special event preparation, data entry, button-making, and much more. Fil recognizes the importance of volunteerism and would recommend it to everyone. “Volunteering is a good way to help others and at the same time learn something new,” she said.
Over the past year, Rainbows United benefitted from the donation of 8680 volunteer hours from committed volunteers like Alexia, Wichita Collegiate’s group, and Fil. Based on the 2013 Kansas dollar value of $20.88 per volunteer hour, Rainbows accumulated the equivalent of $180,090 in volunteer hours in 2016. Included in those hours are 1920 hours contributed by our Board of Directors, and nearly 550 hours that were given by the ladies of Friends of the Heart. From January 2016 to December 2016, Rainbows engaged 566 new and unduplicated volunteers and provided 24 group volunteer opportunities to the community.
“We rely on volunteers for so many things,” said Sidni Garwood, Rainbows’ Volunteer Coordinator. “It is such a privilege to be able to find the perfect match between a volunteer and an agency need. I find such fun in linking their experience, talents and eagerness to serve with an open opportunity to help! True volunteerism is beneficial for both those giving and receiving.”
We love our volunteers at Rainbows! If you have participated as a volunteer for Rainbows, in any capacity, please know that we recognize the importance of your role in this organization and we THANK YOU for your service. We couldn’t fulfill our mission without you! If you are looking for ways to give back and volunteer at Rainbows, consider joining us as a volunteer for our next special event, Rainbows’ GLOW Run | Walk. Additionally, you may contact Sidni Garwood at any time throughout the year to learn about the current volunteer opportunities available. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org for more details!