How long have you been volunteering with WTAP?
I have been helping at WTAP since September 2012. I first found out about WTAP from helping at IRC, but only got involved after seeing a post on Facebook requesting volunteers for deliveries the next day.
Tell me about some of the people you’ve met while working with WTAP?
I have met some great people, both on the client side and on the volunteer side. On the client side, I have met some pretty incredible people. I try not to delve into their past too much, preferring to let them share with me if they wish, but over the years, I have met an Iraqi Air Force colonel, an Afghan film producer, a Cuban semi-pro baseball player, an Iranian reedist, and a Burmese organist. There are countless others whose stories I will never know, but that has always been OK with me. I only want to know as much as they want to share.
On the volunteer side, my favorite part, as a volunteer lead, is seeing other volunteers come out for the first time, having no clue what they will be doing, having a great time, and then seeing them again on a future delivery. I have really enjoyed getting to know other volunteer leads and committee members and have made friendships that could last for years.
Why do you choose to donate your time to WTAP?
I feel like it is an opportunity for me to help other people in one small way. On occasion, it may be life changing for someone, but even when it is not, if it makes their life slightly more enjoyable, I am happy. I feel fortunate to have been born in the United States, knowing I could just have easily been born in a failed state in very different circumstances. In both cases, I would have done nothing to deserve my starting point in life – neither the opportunities nor the disadvantages. I hope to use my position of opportunity and privilege to help others and WTAP is a way that I can do that.
Describe an experience you had while volunteering that made you realize you were making a difference.
These kinds of instances happen very often, but one instance that I remember particularly well was when a client asked me to fix the TV of a elderly neighbor who was from the same country. The man had painful back issues and could only get out of his chair once every few hours. His son worked to support them and was often gone during the day, so the father would just sit in the chair and read that day’s newspaper over and over again. There was a TV in front of him, but it did not work, so he sat in regular boredom. After about twenty minutes of trial and error, we finally got it working and the elderly man was just delighted. Never before had I seen such excitement in such tired eyes.
What do you do when you aren’t volunteering?
I am self-employed and sell mosquito netting, so that takes up much of my time. My primary hobbies are piano, buying art, microelectronic projects, thrifting, and reading Wikipedia for hours. I also really enjoy traveling, particularly the planning and logistics challenges involved.
What secret powers or talents do you have?
I can play piano and I can sometimes hold a conversation in French. That is about it!