A student in a wheelchair singing karaoke with a teen volunteer

A Teen Volunteer’s Reflections

by Sam, Teen Volunteer

Gateways, all I can say is thank you. Since I started as a volunteer, my eyes have been opened to a new world. You have sparked a fire in me that will never be able to be put out. Gateways has allowed me to realize what I am meant to do in this world, what my purpose is. Not a day goes by where I do not discuss how much I love being a teen volunteer. I have found something in my life that I wait all week for, and I feel upset if I have to miss even one session.

Gateways has introduced me to a group of amazing teens, whom I am so lucky to call my friends. Each of us has been impacted by Gateways. In my first year as a volunteer, I had the opportunity to help one of my fellow volunteers in the classroom. We worked with a truly amazing kid, who I was then paired with in my second year. This student always comes into the program with a smile on his face and is always eager to participate in the week’s activities. He has started to learn for his bar mitzvah, and it is such an amazing experience to see his progress unfold right in front of me. Each week we review the blessings that he will recite, and each week he gets better and better. It fills me with so much happiness and pride to see how much he is achieving and that I am playing a part in helping him reach this important Jewish milestone.

In my first year I worked with another student who had a hard time concentrating on his work. The Gateways staff gave me the opportunity to come up with an approach to this dilemma. I decided to give him some tokens that he could use to ask questions that were off topic. Over time, he realized that he could save his tokens for later if he thought about the relevance of his question. Through this process, he began to save his tokens and ask more questions that were on topic. This was a huge accomplishment for the student and for me. 

Gateways has taught me that every student learns in a different way, and if one way of teaching does not work, it’s time to try a different approach. This is something I use more and more in my everyday life since I became a volunteer.

Thank you, Gateways, for giving me the opportunity to become a teen volunteer. If it was not for you I would not have found my passion and purpose in life.