I’ll never forget that day in August four years ago. It was my first volunteer experience and it changed my perception of reality and shaped my life into what it is today: all about connecting through service with Generation United.
After learning about Valley of the Sun United Way at work, a few coworkers and I signed up as Project Connect guest guides to help people experiencing homelessness at the Human Services campus in downtown Phoenix. We attended orientation bright and early at 7:00 a.m. and soon began working directly with people in need. It was a bit intimidating, if I’m being honest. But I tried my best and the guests seemed content with my help.
Later, after helping a number of people, I met a single mother with several kids who were staying in her friend’s living room. She was a veteran who didn’t think anything could be done to improve her grim situation. Guides were encouraged to tell veterans about the revamped vet program. Though hesitant, she allowed me to connect her with critical services and resources and less than an hour later things were already starting to look up.
It took everything in me not breakdown from what I witnessed. Her eyes overflowed with tears when she told me her family would have a place to stay immediately, and she even had a lead for work. The way she embraced those life-changing opportunities definitely gave me a new perspective on such “luxuries” that in the past I’d found so easy to complain about.
Since then, I’ve become very involved with United Way’s young professional group, Generation United, and witnessed many go from hopeless to hopeful. While it’s an experience I can’t really explain, in my heart I wish everyone could volunteer for Project Connect or any event where you can work one-on-one with someone less fortunate than you.
Generation United attracts amazing people and offers exceptional opportunities to serve others. I make it a priority to attend their awesome events and have developed into an ambassador for my company. Generation United always makes me feel welcome, accepted, and gives me a sense of belonging.