Aine chose Meals on Wheels in part because her grandparents receive Bento boxes each week from the Japan America Society of Minnesota. “I’ve seen how much getting them means to grandparents who are in their 90’s,” Aine says. In addition, Aine’s mom is a family physician who has referred patients to Wilder. “When I went to Wilder’s website and saw that Meals on Wheels delivery volunteers were needed, I knew that is what I wanted to do.”
Aine says volunteering helps her gain confidence
At first, Aine was nervous about delivering meals on her own, but with support from Wilder staff, she began to feel more confident in her abilities. “After I delivered a few times, it made me feel more independent and more confident and that I could be given a task and accomplish it and I can do a good job with it,” Aine says. “I was being given the same responsibility that adults were given, and that was a new experience for me.”
Aine says she has gained communication skills and experience interacting with people outside her bubble, and she has also learned she has passions other than getting good grades and school activities. In fact, Aine spoke so positively about her experience with Wilder Meals on Wheels that she recruited friends to volunteer with her.
“I’ve had such a positive experience with the staff and clients, and I feel I have gained way more than I have contributed,” Aine says. “If other high school kids were interested in volunteering I would recommend Wilder’s Meals on Wheels program because it is a super supportive environment.”
Volunteering with COVID-19 safety protocols eased Aine's fears
Volunteer opportunities in many organizations shifted dramatically during the COVID-19 pandemic. In the interest of safety, some in-person opportunities were paused, and many volunteers who are at risk of COVID-19 complications opted to stay home. Aine shared similar concerns when she began volunteering. She’s close to her grandparents, who were also concerned about her volunteer work. “What made me feel better is that Wilder took it seriously, and there were a number of protocols in place that made me feel like everyone was being as safe as possible, which eased my fears,” she says.
Aine recommends asking about COVID-19 protocols when looking for a place to volunteer. “It is important that the organization takes it seriously,” she says.