A-SPAN’s volunteer of the month is a full-time interpreter at local courts in Virginia, and works at night as a part-time security officer at an Information Technology (IT) company. During the winter while traveling from one job to the other, she stops in often at the shelter to serve up dinner and talk with clients.
There are many ways to volunteer and many ways to share your unique talents in order to make someone’s day better. Thuy “Tweety” Dong first volunteered at A-SPAN’s shelter after a friend had volunteered over Thanksgiving several years ago. In addition to serving meals and greeting guests, Tweety asked if she could use her art to brighten the shelter. She uses photography as therapy and to bring peace of mind. She hoped to do the same for clients at the shelter. Over the shelter season last year, clients were treated to framed photographs of gardens, scenic vistas, and cityscapes in the main rooms at the shelter. The effect of these beautiful photos was felt most during the long hours of the blizzards this winter.
For using her talents to make our world a better place, we are proud to call Tweety our September 2010 A-LIST Volunteer of the Month.
What was your first volunteer experience?
My first volunteer experience was back in high school at a nursing home. I remember going there and being asked to just come by and keep people company. It was great just to keep someone company and just talk to them. I could see their smile and how happy they were and it made me feel good. A lot of them didn’t have family, they were really appreciative just to see us because they had no one to come and visit them.
Why did you start volunteering at A-SPAN?
I started doing more volunteering back in 2008 because I had a death in the family. I needed to keep myself busy. I thought if I kept myself busy then it is sort of like therapy. I liked it. So, I involved my husband and I just loved it. Now I just want to keep doing it.
How did you hear about A-SPAN?
I heard about A-SPAN through a friend who volunteered one time for Thanksgiving. She said, “Tweety, you volunteer often and you have to do this one.” So, I came and I listened to the orientation. It was a very good; thorough about everything. My girlfriend came back and did it with me and my husband, all three of us.
Why do you continue to volunteer?
I think it is very important to give back to the community through volunteering. I tell everyone: at least do something on this earth while you are here! Every time I see someone I say, “You should volunteer and you will get something back. I promise. If you can’t go and you need a ride I will drive you there. Just do once and see what it is like. “
What is your favorite thing about being a volunteer here?
Everything. I enjoy the people; but most important to me is the service. It is not just food to help the people on the streets but it is also a shelter. Even just talking, it helps to have someone there, like a mentor, if they have a bad day and they want to vent. It is good just to have someone to talk to. They’re out there all day and people walk by and don’t talk to them. They have no one to talk to. When they come in the evening it is nice to have a volunteer to ask, “How is your day?” Yeah, sometimes they’re grumpy and I usually make jokes with them, “Who burnt your toast this morning? What happened?”
[Talking with people] is the most rewarding part to me. I volunteer because I love to help people. I also love the service that A-SPAN provides, it’s not just one thing it’s a lot of things housing, clothing, food, shelter, services for mental health, jobs, it’s everything, it’s like all in one. It’s not just a place where you go to sleep and they kick you out in the morning.
What impact do you think you have on our community?
I feel I don’t have enough! I need 10 of me. As far as impact, I want to give someone a smile. I want to win their heart.