This past week was a series of firsts of me: work at my first “real” post-graduate job, my first day of work at said job (as an AmeriCorps Program Associate for Pass It Along), and my first Pass It Along volunteer experience. It is that last first, though, that explains why I embarked on this whole “series of firsts” in the first place.
On day three of the job, I was asked to assist with the S.C.A.R.C. Guardianship picnic. The event celebrated the clients S.C.A.R.C. serves, who are individuals with developmental disabilities, and their families. I agreed. Four days later, I arrived onsite at the Hampton Borough Park and found myself in awe of the sprawling park grounds, which housed a play ground set, numerous benches and tables, and an open air pavilion. I walked over to the pavilion and was greeted by fellow volunteers already busy bringing in mums and tables from the parking lot nearby. After all the supplies were hauled into the pavilion, we continued with more prep work: placing table clothes and mums on the picnic tables, arranging stations for the meal, coffee, and dessert, and gathering utensils.
Shortly thereafter, the caterers brought in the food (salad, bread, ziti bolognese, chicken marsala, and meatballs) and each volunteer was assigned a tray. I was in charge of the meatballs! Almost immediately as I took my post, guests and their family members began arriving. Because I was dishing out some of the food, I was able to meet almost every person in attendance, which is pretty amazing considering just over a hundred individuals were there.
Meanwhile, a band began setting up and soon enough, I heard them rocking out and saw guests dancing away. It was wonderful seeing people enjoying the music and the day to the fullest.
When the food was all but gone, I was able to socialize with some of the attendees and learn more about the functions of the S.C.A.R.C. Guardianship department. It was a unique experience hearing from the S.C.A.R.C. employees about the nature of their work and simultaneously, seeing their work in action, and meeting the clients they serve.
Then, it was coffee and dessert time (jello and pumpkin pie with whipped cream—yum!). Everyone enjoyed the pie and especially the whipped cream. As the day was gradually cooling down, the steaming and freshly brewed coffee was also a hit. After dessert, people started leaving and soon enough, it was clean-up time!
Overall, the day was a wonderful introduction to Pass It Along’s programs and a great reminder of why I wished to join the organization in the first place. To explain the latter sentiment, I have to return to the rocking band and dancing guests. One dancer in particular I am thinking of now: a woman in a bright pink jacket, who danced from the end of her lunch until she was told it was time to leave. She seemed so free, so content, and so happy. Seeing her happiness and knowing that, in some small way, I was part of and responsible for that woman’s elevated state affirmed my choice to me. I cannot wait to participate in Pass It Along’s other programs and continue to share my experiences with you all.
–Chloé Briggs, the *New* AmeriCorps Program Associate