How long have you been volunteering with WTAP?
Our family, my two daughters and I, have been volunteering since September 2014. We have helped with deliveries, organized the warehouse, worked at the clothing closet, and have adopted a family for the annual event.
Tell me about some of the people you’ve met while working with WTAP?
We have met many amazing volunteers who come out regularly to spend their Saturday mornings – individuals, couples, and parents and their children. More importantly, we have had the privilege of meeting families from all over the world. One Somali family really stands out in our minds. There were about 9 people in the family, all in one apartment. While they had very little in way of furniture or material belongings they had turned their home into a beautiful, welcoming place by covering the walls, ceiling, and even floors with colorful, patterned cloths. You walked into their home and you immediately felt as if you had been transported half-way around the world. With so little, they had made a welcoming home. Each time we volunteer we are humbled by the families we meet who have their own personal challenges and dreams to share.
Why do you choose to donate your time to WTAP?
We initially found out about WTAP when looking for an organization to support for Manya’s alma mater’s annual national alumni volunteer day. Manya coordinated the Arizona alumni volunteer group in 2014 and 2015. We absolutely loved our first experience and committed ourselves to becoming regular volunteers. The joy we feel from helping families find clothing and set-up their new homes is unbeatable. We selfishly keep returning to volunteer to keep re-experiencing that joy.
Describe an experience you had while volunteering that made you realize you were making a difference. Not long after we first started volunteering, we had the privilege of helping a young family from Afghanistan. The father/husband had been a interpreter supporting U.S. troops forcing them to leave their country to be safe from violent retaliation. They had 2 young children under the age of about 5 and the wife was pregnant with another child. When we arrived at their home, we found out that they had really been hoping for a stroller for the younger child because the pregnant mom could not carry him. We knew there was no stroller on the truck for them. We made the decision to run to a store down the street and to buy the family a stroller. It was just a simple, basic stroller, but the impact it had on that family was significant.
What do you do when you aren’t volunteering?
Besides caring for our small backyard flock of pampered hens, we keep busy with school activities. Manya is a school psychologist. Tatijana and Maja are middle school students.
What secret powers or talents do you have?
The girls are proud of their physical strength when unloading the truck. Manya claims no super power other than a commitment to raising caring children who are involved in their community.