A Volunteer's Story: Watching Families Come Together

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When you think of community engagement, you probably think of something like volunteering.

But what if service is more than just a one-time act? What if it's a full circle of giving and receiving, where community members go from participants to givers and toggle back and forth in constant reciprocity? This is not a new idea, and in fact, people in our community who have grown up being involved in supportive programs are likely to stay involved as they continue their lives.



This is the case for 20-year-old, Jordan Rodgers. A freshman at Warren Wilson College, Rodgers has volunteered at Owen Middle School at the weekly Community Night featuring Homework Diners since she began college. Her reasoning for dedicating a few hours weekly to the local middle school comes from her experiences. “I had the support when I was young,” said Rodgers, “ I had people step in and were there for me for some of the rough stuff I’ve been through.”


Being a Gen Z’er, Rodgers is the newest generation of adult volunteers. However, she does note how uncommon it is to see her peers out in the community. With all that happens in your early 20s, from college to just figuring out how you want to live your life, Rodger sees why volunteering may not seem like a viable option for many Gen Z’ers. But from her first-hand experience, Rodgers wants to encourage her peers to explore community engagement as a way to discover new things about themselves.

“I think going out into the community and seeing different perspectives in a direct way is really important to me. It helps me find my path because it reminds me that I came from similar situations, where I am now and where I am going .”

When you're a volunteer, you are engaging with the community in a way that can benefit both parties. The more you give, the more others will want to give back. This is especially true for young adults who are still trying to find their place in the world—volunteering gives them a chance to make a difference while also giving them a sense of belonging within their communities. As sure as Rodgers is that community engagement will provide a perspective shift for youth adults, she is equally adamant about encouraging all people of all ages to be both the giver and receiver when engaging in community-oriented programs and events. “We’re not here just to serve the community and not engage in it”, said Rodgers “we’re here to engage in the community and be a real part of it and not make the changes we think need to happen but make the changes our community needs.”

“I’ve seen a lot of amazing things happen at Community Nights,” said Rodgers as she reminisced on some of the touching moments she has experienced at the Community Nights at Owen Middle School, “It seems to bring families closer together, having the opportunity to bond outside the house”.



“It’s not just like going out to a restaurant to eat, where your family may talk or not. The tutors are here engaging the parents.” They do this not only by having the parents and guardians help with homework at the diner but also by thinking of ways that they can continue helping their child at home. The continual circle of having a family receive an evening free of worrying about dinner and their children’s homework while also taking and sharing skills to help their student along further and therefore help them feel more comfortable and successful in class is not to be understated. These small actions can lead to the individual success of Asheville and Buncombe County’s youth and create a future where the community is the center of young adults like, much like Jordan Rodgers.

“I know for me, having events, where my dad was brought into my education, was a big help for him and me. I’ve seen it make a difference when you have the connection between education for parents and students.”


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