April 17, 2015
On Isabella Yaghmai’s 12th birthday, her friends brought baby dolls, trucks, puzzles and preschool books to her party. They weren’t typical gifts for a preteen girl, but they were exactly what Isabella wanted. She told her friends that, instead of bringing gifts for her, she wanted them to bring toys for the children staying with their moms in the YWCA Central Alabama’s domestic violence shelter.
“My parents had been asking me what I wanted for my birthday,” Isabella said. “I wasn’t really sure because I already had so much. For some kids, one little thing would make their whole day so I decided to ask for toys instead. I just have a desire in me to help.”
Isabella may be one of the younger supporters of the women, children and families served by the YWCA, but she sums up the sentiment of so many of our faithful and dedicated volunteers. They want to help others, and they make a tremendous difference in the lives of so many. That’s why, during National Volunteer Appreciation Week, we want to take a moment to say how truly grateful we are.
“Our programs make an impact because our volunteers make an impact,” said Mary Jane Gibson, volunteer coordinator for the YWCA. “Last year, we had more than 1,430 volunteers who touched the lives of those we serve in some way. We absolutely could not do what we do and meet the needs of so many hurting women and children without them.”
YWonderful volunteers do a little bit of everything. They tutor homeless children in our After-School Enrichment Program and sort clothing donated to My Sister’s Closet, which provides professional clothing for women who are rebuilding their lives to wear to work or job interviews. They answer frantic phone calls to our 24-hour Crisis Line and lead support groups for domestic violence victims and their children.
They donate prom dresses to economically disadvantaged high school girls, write checks, and prepare craft materials and wrap presents at Santa’s Workshop, which allows parents to “shop” for free gifts for their children while the kids make presents for their loved ones. They plant flowers, prepare meals and donate furniture, sheets and home goods so that families can make a new start as they transition from our homeless shelter in Woodlawn to permanent housing.
“I am amazed at the amount of love and compassion our volunteers have for the vulnerable people we serve,” YWCA CEO Yolanda Sullivan said. “We have a saying at the YW that we are ‘Strong Alone, Fearless Together,’ and our volunteers prove that time and time again. We thank them from the bottom of our hearts.”
If you would like to become involved with the YWCA or support our programs, click here.