Most people dread Mondays. Back to work, back to school, back to the grind…and right back where you started 7 days earlier, with 5 whole days standing between you and the weekend. I used to be one of those people (ok, and sometimes still am). But since June of 2012 my Mondays have been just a little bit brighter. That’s when Allison Mandel started volunteering with us in the Education & Training Office here at A Woman’s Place (AWP). She was only 12 years old at the time, a 6th grader, timidly telling me over the phone that she had to do 5 hours of service for her impending bat mitzvah – and she was intent on giving that time to AWP. Two years later, she and her mother are still faithfully making the trip from Richboro to Doylestown just about every Monday after school so that Allison can help us out. Why? “Because it’s fun,” Allison said the other day. “Everybody’s nice and makes me feel comfortable. I can’t explain exactly why but I really like coming here. I just look forward to it.”
It’s fun for us, too, but also incredibly impactful. Over the years, she has seen and done it all with us – from filing paperwork and coloring “Greenies” (a paper cutout for our elementary school Peace Works program) to data entry and compiling informational packets. The more she volunteered, the more involved she wanted to get. So last year, Allison decided to join our Young Adult Advisory Board (YAAB). She doesn’t always have a whole lot to say at our monthly meetings, but she helped us plan our 2013 Dance Marathon, Global Youth Service Day project, and Walk to Empower & 5K. Her quiet and unassuming passion for AWP seems to have caught on at home, too; supporting the organization has now become a family affair for the Mandels. It’s not unusual to see her parents or siblings or friends at AWP events, dropping off donations, or offering to post signs and flyers to promote upcoming activities. Allison may be AWP’s youngest volunteer, but she is showing us all that it’s not about age, it’s about heart.
When she’s not volunteering, Allison is busy being your average teenager…meeting up with friends at the movies on Friday nights, catching up on the latest episodes of Dr. Who, Sherlock Holmes, and of course, Spongebob Squarepants, or listening to music. Actually, one of the things I look forward to most about Mondays is talking music with Allison. We talk concerts, we talk new bands, we talk the classics, especially her all-time favorite group, The Beatles (it’s no surprise that if she could have lunch with anyone, living and dead, she’d want to dine with The Beatles…or J.K. Rowling). Her other favorite activity? Being a big sister to her little brother, David. “I like teaching him things, and being a role model for him,” Allison told me one day at the office. “Mostly, though, I just like being there for him, and hang out with him.”
Allison, never lose your sweetness, your creativity, and your quiet but powerful drive to help others – even when you make it big as a visual effects director for all the number one blockbusters. We look forward to the next three years with you, before you go off to college and start making a difference in whatever big city you decide is calling your name.
THANK YOU ALLISON…
AND HAPPY VOLUNTEER APPRECIATION MONTH TO ALL OUR VOLUNTEERS!
Director of Education & Training