Monday, March 27, 2017

New Member Kelsey Sullivan Lives Out Our Literacy Focus in Her Mini Placement and Community Experience

Junior League of Washington (JLW) New Member Kelsey Sullivan served in the community for both her mini placement and community experience, gaining eye-opening experiences during her provisional year. Read on to find out all about Kelsey’s experiences in her mini placement and in her community experience.

“I've had the pleasure of completing a wonderful community experience as well as an unforgettable mini placement. For my community experience, I volunteered with the DC Books to Prisons Project, and for my mini placement, I volunteered with the Washington School for Girls (WSG) four Saturday mornings over the course of a few months.

“At the DC Books to Prisons Project, I read letters sent to the organization directly from incarcerated men and women from around the country and responded by picking out and sending books to them I thought they would like. Their letters spoke about their interests, aspirations, and favorite authors and genres, and we worked to carefully select literature, self-help books, and even textbooks that would cater to their requests. It was a very moving experience, because when we think of the criminal justice system in the United States, we think of the millions and millions of Americans who are behind bars. This experience allowed me to get to know a few of these Americans personally. It made an issue that is so vast and at times seems helpless very accessible and personal. I was nervous about my choices, because I didn't want them to be disappointed by the books they would receive. I wrote little notes back wishing them happy reading, and I do hope that they all enjoyed the pieces I picked out for them.

“At the Washington School for Girls, I had the pleasure of working with and socializing with underprivileged girls in grades 3-8. We ate breakfast with them, played some ice-breaker games, and then spent the rest of the time helping them with homework and various assignments. My favorite part of this opportunity was knowing that I was helping these girls solve problems and appreciate the learning process, and hopefully, along the way, acting as a role model for them. Despite coming from families and communities with few resources, these girls are happy, smart, confident young women with bright futures, thanks to WSG. 

“I think I was most inspired by the JLW leader of the WSG partnership. Her passion for WSG and the work the school is doing was incredibly inspiring. While we volunteers spent our time tutoring the little girls, JLW’s relationship manager [Jennie Kronthal] spent her Saturday mornings teaching a girl’s mom how to read. This was so moving, because her work truly was contributing to JLW's mission of literacy promotion. Teaching a mother how to read will not only empower her to read, but it will allow her to teach her children and grandchildren how to read, and the gift of reading will be passed on through generations to come. Improving one person's literacy can have implications that reach far beyond that one individual. [Jennie] really inspired me to think about the ways that I can contribute to society, and to JLW, in my own future as a member. This was definitely a ‘mission moment.’

“I joined JLW because I wanted to be connected with opportunities to volunteer, and I must say, it has exceeded my expectations. I have volunteered more in the last four to five months than I have in the last four to five years of my life here in DC. Additionally, I have made some great friends so far, which I honestly didn't expect. I knew I'd meet some lovely young women with similar goals and aspirations as me, but I didn't really expect to meet young women with whom I would click so fast – that has been a wonderful bonus to my JLW experience so far.

“I am sincerely looking forward to becoming a full member and joining different committees. This has been a great experience, and I have encouraged many, many friends and acquaintances to consider joining JLW. I am so excited about the coming years of good friendships, leadership experiences and most importantly, opportunities to give back to those around me who are in need.”

Thank you for sharing your experiences, Kelsey! Now, it’s your turn. What have been some of your favorite JLW experiences volunteering in our community?

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