Volunteering isn’t just a way to help other people, it’s also a way to connect with the community. That’s something Denver teen Aitiana Wilson realized when the pandemic began.
“It was tough times for everyone, so I decided if I wanted to go out and help someone, to do it right now,” said the Denver East High School junior.
Wilson started researching volunteer opportunities and found several that were virtual. But since her school was remote, she wanted to do something that would connect her to people in person. So she started volunteering for the YMCA of Metro Denver’s Beyond Hunger program. Every Thursday, she prepares meals for families to pick up at the Southwest YMCA.
“You see the same people coming back every week, so you build those connections with them, and that just felt really great,” Wilson said.
The benefit goes both ways, because the YMCA loves having Wilson as a volunteer.
“She's a joy. She is here every week and she is hardworking, conscientious, and just amazing,” said Claudia Morlan, Senior Communications Director with the YMCA of Metro Denver.
Wilson encourages other teens to volunteer, noting it can be great work experience. But mostly, she said, it just feels good.
“I want to do it as often as I possibly can. It's very rewarding,” Wilson said.
The YMCA has more volunteer opportunities for teenagers and adults with the Beyond Hunger program, as well as youth sports coaching, and summer planting and gardening.