Meet October’s Volunteer of the Month
This month’s outstanding volunteer is Jordan Burns, who has been volunteering with Playtime’s Preteen Night since March 2017. She also joined the staff as a communications/photography intern during the summer – you’ve probably seen some of her great pictures on our website and social media.
“We love having Jordan with us on Monday nights,” said Michelai Lowe, Site Manager for the Preteen and Teen Night programs. “She adores the kids and is dedicated to Playtime. She jumps in wherever she’s needed, and makes sure the children have fun. And she always captures great pictures during program. She even joined our Volunteer Coordinator at a recent fair at American University, sharing her story with potential volunteers!”
Why did you initially get involved in Playtime?
I initially got involved in Playtime because American University has a Community Service Learning Program. This community service class was based on urban lives and city life. Learning first about the city’s hidden and often silent/silenced voices in numerous ethnographies, I was then assigned my own ethnography project. I had to find a community or organization to study while also serving. I have always loved to volunteer, and had recently finished volunteering with Thrive DC, when I started looking for a new organization to work with and found Playtime conveniently located in the same building. I loved working with Thrive, but I wanted to work directly with children experiencing homelessness – one of the most silenced groups in a city.
How has volunteering with Playtime affected you?
Playtime has honestly made me a better person. I didn’t realize how much I had changed until my friends and family started sarcastically calling me a social justice warrior. I catch myself talking about “my kids” on a daily basis. It is so funny how far away “homeless kids” were from my mind until I was plopped in front of a few. Now, I can’t get them out of my brain. Because of them, I got an internship with Playtime so I could help out and participate more. Because of them, I got an internship with Friendship Place, another non-profit that aids people experiencing homelessness. I volunteer every Monday night. Mondays have become my favorite day. Sometimes, it is exhausting, draining work. But working at Playtime and getting the opportunity to meet each and every individual kid has helped me remember what is important in life. I remember my childhood. It was the best childhood anyone could imagine. I was given and shown the world. But these kids, they don’t get the world. They deserve so much more.
Share a memorable moment as a Playtime volunteer/intern.
There are so many memorable moments at Playtime – happy, sad, funny, depressing. There is one instance I always tell people when I talk about Playtime – when I was playing Hangman one night with one of the boys. It was his turn to create a word, and as most kids do, he started making the longest Hangman phrase ever. As I slowly started to guess letters, he messed up a few times. We laughed but continued on with the game. When I finally got all the letters figured out, I felt sick to my stomach. I was playing Hangman on a piece of used construction paper with an eight-year-old boy, and his “word” was, “What a hard world and life.” I looked at him in that moment and wanted to do anything for him. Anything. What eight year old writes that?
What else do you want people to know about your work with Playtime?
Working at Playtime has been one of the best choices I have made in 2017! I have made real connections with kids I would never have met if it weren’t for Playtime. I signed up thinking I would help change the lives of kids experiencing homelessness, but I didn’t know these kids would help change mine.