Jeanne L. – volunteer

“I’ve learned to say I love you in Romanian.”

I saw an ad for the Mentoring program in the paper. Then I saw another ad for kitchen help through the United Way and thought, “This is something I’d like to do.” I’ve often worked in underserved areas. It’s a way for me to give back and feel satisfied as well. When I wanted to volunteer here, I wanted to do something meaningful to me, and the participants.

The first lunch I volunteered for helped me to know it was appreciated. We were preparing lunch for people who were eager to move on with their lives. I wanted to encourage that.

Mercy Connections fits with my own guiding principles: that people deserve a second chance. I’ve learned how to deal with different personalities, cultures and diversity. I’ve learned to say “I love you” in Romanian. I’ve learned what people can teach me, like knitting. Everybody is super kind here.

When people ask me about Mercy, the thing I accentuate is that it’s a group of people empowering mostly women, but even men, whether it’s teaching ELL or any of the programs here.

When I come here, there’s not a sense of pressure – you’re here on your own will. The staff makes me feel like the more work there is to do, the more I want to do. It makes you want to keep giving. It’s fun. The most important part for me is the credibility. My mission is to help, and I’m task-oriented. It’s an easy way for me to give what I can offer. Volunteering with a diverse population has been a real learning experience – I love everyone here, I feel like they’re family.