I’ve known Angela online for about 13 years and though we’ve never met in person, I’ve always found her inspiring and hope you do too.
Why do you feel volunteering is important?
I’ve always had a “give back” mentality. I’m sure it stems from my own past of need and pains, so when I lived in Georgia, when my painful past came to an end (so to speak), I wanted to be the one who was there for others. I started a support group for teen parents, worked with the Teen Pregnancy Prevention Task Force, and began my own small organization to send gifts and love to teen parents. I honestly think doing all of that helped me on my own path to healing. It always felt so wonderful to sit across from those young parents and give them hope and encouragement.
Where do you volunteer now?
When I moved to Colorado, I had bigger hopes. It didn’t take long before I found my local pregnancy center and realized their goals were the same I had had, only they were able to help so many more. I started off working with them on a small scale, first just being there to get educated, then speaking at a fundraising event, and then answering the call to clean the center. Yes, cleaning. With all my experience, I really started by cleaning the toilets. I felt called to start there, and it was from there that I learned to become truly comfortable as I was still battling my own demons of the past, namely fear and anxiety.
After a year of cleaning, in which I took classes to become a one-on-one mentor, I officially moved to mentoring only. I was specific with which clients I wanted to work with: teen parents. Though I’ve worked with a few older moms, my call is to walk this journey with teens. I love the bonds I form with each of these young moms (sometimes dads), and most have stayed in touch even after leaving the Earn While You Learn program. I teach parenting classes, but more than that, I get to really connect heart to heart.
In addition, I offer my photo services to clients at the center. Again, I have a focus on teen parents, but I have photographed all across the board. In 2013, I was able to help the center create a full calendar (for 2014) to gift to donors, and that means all the “models” received free photo shoots and photos as well. We went a bit smaller for the 2015 calendar, creating a simple refrigerator magnet, but again, it led to a client receiving photos they might not have otherwise been able to have of their newborn precious baby.
Whether it’s time or talent, I believe we all have something to give. I volunteer pretty exclusively for CHOICES because their mission is exactly what I wish I had had when I was a teen mom, and because I walked too much of my own journey alone. If I can be one person or part of a village for each teen parent, I feel like I’ve achieved something great in this world.
You can learn more about Angela at her website, Love Your Everyday Life.