John’s Volunteer Story

Several years ago, Nancy Yancey casually asked me if I was available on Thursday evenings. I responded that Thursdays happened to be one of the few nights that I was not working. She immediately informed me that it must be a sign that I was meant to be a volunteer for “Big Recess.” On Thursday nights Rainbow Village volunteers serve a meal for the families and then the parents move into education classes while the kids play together at “Big Recess.” Well, how can you say “no” to Nancy (or at least I can’t), so I said “yes” and jumped in. What I found when I arrived was a loud, sometimes messy, somewhat chaotic mass of spontaneous energy exerted by kids ranging in age from toddlers to teens. My role was to be present, to pour the juice, keep an eye out, referee the arguments and help clean up the mess. This weekly experience over the course of the next year gave me a unique opportunity to see the healing power of Rainbow Village. For many of the kids, Rainbow Village is the first stable living environment that they have experienced in a long while. Some had been in multiple schools over the course of a year as they moved from place to place. I remember being touched by a little girl asking excitedly of Nancy if she “really was going to be at the same school all year long”. I have seen shy, frightened, angry kids change over the months as stability increased in their daily lives. Sometimes the changes were subtle; sometimes, dramatic. I pray that my “presence” is, in some small way, of value to each child at Rainbow Village.

John M.