By: Adelina Badea, Career Advancement Program J-1 Intern from Romania

I knew that volunteering is very important in the U.S. Americans are encouraged to volunteer shortly after they begin to go to school. I always knew that volunteering meant helping others in need, but I never knew how much you could develop as a person. I discovered what volunteering means probably too late in my life because back home, in Romania, volunteering is not that important and Romanian people are not encouraged to volunteer as here in the U.S.

CCI Greenheart recommended I should volunteer, so I started to look for organizations that needed volunteers when I came across the Easter Seals Blake Foundation in Tucson. The Easter Seals Blake Foundation (ESBF) is dedicated to helping children and adults living with autism spectrum disorder and other disabilities or special needs and their families. I knew the minute I found out about them that I had to volunteer for this organization.

A couple of weeks after I contacted ESBF, I was in Carrie’s office ready to start volunteering in the Events and Marketing Department. Carrie explained to me ESBF’s mission and she gave me a tour of the facilities. I met the children and even though their life is not as normal as ours, I saw that they’re happy, surrounded by people who love them and take care of them.

I started with office work, helping to input email addresses in a database and to make the inventory for all the things we needed for the Walk, Run, Roll Event. At the event I helped for all three shifts. For the first shift I set up tables, chairs, sponsorship tents, registration, snacks, as well as arts and crafts areas.

I met new people and I was so happy to learn we all have the same goal: to help these wonderful children.

For the second shift I was in charge of the water station, where my job was to hand out water to participants along the route. For the last shift, I helped to clean up and to break down the tables and the chairs. I worked hard but at the same time I had a lot of fun. I drew with the children and I played drums and their happiness made me even happier!

I have to say that Carrie is a wonderful woman and everything she is doing for this foundation is awesome. Her ideas and work help these people who sincerely need her. I am so happy I met her because she has a good energy and she is a good role model.

After my volunteering experience I realized that volunteering doesn’t mean just helping others, but it also means helping yourself.

Talking with Carrie I understood that volunteering has a great impact on teenagers because it helps build career options. They have the chance to try different jobs during volunteering.

I wish I had the chance to do something like this back home. Volunteering also helps you create connections with people and gaining new insights and experiences.

I discovered the importance of volunteering maybe too late in my life, but I am sure I will continue volunteering when I go back home. I will encourage all the teenagers to start volunteering because we all need to start giving back to the community and helping each other.

Learn more about our Intern & Trainee program and volunteer with the Greenheart Club.