Why I volunteer
thais Oliveira, on being in a love box:
Why do you volunteer?
"The experience is so gratifying. It sounds kind of self-centered, but takes a lot of anxiety out of what you see on social media and in the news. It's a way that I can make this world better - at least one life a little better. And we're helping our foster families impact so many more lives. It's gratifying, anxiety-reducing, it's hard - super painful and sad to watch sometimes, but I think my heart actually got bigger. We accept those families and children in foster for who they are, without judgment. It's been so nice to make my family bigger by volunteering."
What keeps you consistent?
"The kiddos, and the foster parents - they're superheroes! It's such a tremendous show of love to take in a kid in need or kids with trauma. And once you start that, you can't go back."
What made you to choose to involve your family in volunteering?
"I thought my son would really get along with the child I support. And he does - they have a great relationship. My son lives in a privileged bubble - I wanted him to know that things happen in the world, and not everyone is like that. And he was surprised that kids might not live with their parents. He's getting a view of the real world - as hurtful as it is. But he also got a friend. They play chess."
"It's such a simple thing in life to do - and you *CAN* do it. Just showing up makes such a difference."
What else do you take away from the experience?
"It has given me a lot of perspective, and has taught me so much about how to be a better parent. How to show up, and learn more about how trauma affects the brain and body. I sympathize with and better understand children who are having development and behavioral issues.
I involved my child because I come from a super poor country and now I live in this beautiful bubble. And it's important for me that he sees otherness here. You don't have to travel to Brazil (where she grew up) to see struggle and poverty."
What do you want people in our community to know about kids in care?
"I want people in our community to know that kids in care are awesome - and they need love and attention.
When I started volunteering, I was shocked to learn that it's an issue here - that our little community has so many kids in need - of just a bed if they're suddenly displaced."
"And even with all the trauma they go through, they have a lack of connectedness that is so easy to fill. There are kids in our community that need you - even if it's just a couple hours a week. Anyone can volunteer and step in to give kids in care a sense of belonging and normalcy. You can do such little things - like making sure they have food when they're hungry, or knowing they can count on someone - and what that does for their brain, allows them to let their guard down some, and just be a kid."
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