by Alex Ropes, Volunteer Manager

Since joining Amara as Volunteer Manager in August of last year, I have come to realize that we have some of the most incredible, passionate, and infinitely dedicated volunteers I’ve ever encountered. It’s easy to see how much every one of our volunteers cares about children. Whether it’s spending time with children at the Sanctuary, helping at fundraising events, supporting youth as a mentor, or working together to move into a new facility, our volunteers never cease to amaze me with their unending support of all we do at Amara to support children in foster care.

Amara has over 200 volunteers committed to supporting our mission and making a positive impact on the lives of children in our community! Without the support of our volunteers, many of our programs supporting children and families wouldn’t be possible. The STAR Adoptee Mentorship program relies entirely on volunteers to build relationships with adopted youth of a shared experience. Volunteers who provide childcare during our Foster Parent Support Groups are essential so kiddos can be cared for while their foster parents receive valuable training and support. Our two Emergency Sanctuaries require 1 – 2 volunteer for every shift to care for kids first entering foster care.

Helping children through a traumatic time in their life, is a lot to ask of our volunteers, but they consistently rise to the occasion. When I think about our volunteers, and the many talents they bring to the team, I always think back to an experience at the Sanctuary when we had an older kid in care who didn’t really engage with the staff or volunteers much at first. This youth was sitting quietly on the couch, lost in thought, when my fellow volunteer asked if they wanted to play a game – Uno maybe? They grudgingly agreed but did not seem enthused or much interested. Surprisingly, within the first few minutes of starting the card game this young person was laughing and they were joking together. Sometimes, all it takes is something small – like a game of cards – to show a child you care, that they are important and that they matter.

In honor of National Volunteer Appreciation Week, I want to thank everyone who has supported and continues to support children in foster care with their greatest gift: their time. Volunteering has the power to change lives, and I am forever grateful for the many volunteers who have chosen to give that gift to Amara, and the kids in our care.

If you would like to give the gift of your time to support children in foster care, and join an amazing team of volunteers, please contact us: volunteers@amaraputskidsfirst.org