Spotlight on Volunteers Jodie and Kaelynn Samp
Volunteers do not necessarily have the time; they just have the heart. –
This year, National Volunteer Week falls on April 7-13. Organized by Points of Light – the world’s largest organization dedicated to volunteer service, National Volunteer Week is designed to promote volunteerism and celebrate the impact volunteers can have in tackling society’s greatest challenges, building stronger communities and transforming the world. Rainbow Village is truly blessed with an ever-growing network of caring and compassionate volunteers to aid us in our mission to break the cycles of homelessness, poverty and domestic violence in the lives of the families we serve. In celebration of National Volunteer Week, we are proud to shine the spotlight on two of our cherished volunteers, Jodie Samp and her daughter, Kaelynn.
Q: How did you first learn about Rainbow Village and why did you feel compelled to get involved?
A: We first learned about Rainbow Village a few years ago through our long-time church, Parkway Baptist. As a church, we were seeking partners with whom we could do missions and serve in a way that aligned with our new understanding of assets-based community development. We had been studying the book “When Helping Hurts” by Steve Corbett and Brian Fikkert and realized that there were programs out there already doing service in a better, healthier way. Once my daughter, Kaelynn, and I realized that not only was this a place that helped in the way we wanted to help, but it was actually located on the same road we take between our house and our church, we knew we wanted to get involved at Rainbow Village.
Q: What volunteer activities have you been involved with at Rainbow Village?
A: At first, our church and youth group participated in sponsoring a family at Rainbow Village, but we knew that to really make a difference, it was going to require some hands-on work. Kaelynn mentioned wanting to volunteer at Rainbow Village every time we passed it – so multiple times a week! Last summer, we signed up during Love Atlanta’s volunteer week to pack lunches and ended up shoveling dirt, which just goes to show, we’re happy to do anything for Rainbow Village. At the beginning of last school year, we made a commitment together to participate in the After- School program twice a week. Through that experience, we encourage kids, form relationships, watch them work on songs and poems in Drama club, help them read and learn science in the computer lab, and – of course their least favorite part – assist them with their homework. Since our church is also a Rainbow Village Faith Partner, we also serve by not only praying for every family, but also donating snacks for the kids, making meals for the families and providing goodies during the holidays.
Q: What are the personal rewards that come from volunteering at Rainbow Village for each of you?
A: The greatest rewards are watching those kids thrive and learn. We work a lot with the kindergarten group, so they’ve gone from struggling with their letters to reading, and while every kindergarten student learns a lot, there’s a deeper sense of overcoming with them. It’s also nice that they’ve become comfortable with us and will either light up when they see us or give us funny faces because we remind them of homework they have to do. They are authentic, adorable, and absolutely need to feel like they are important to other people. And as a mom that struggled to find a place where my daughter could use her gift of helping others, it’s amazing to watch my teenaged, co-volunteer get completely focused on the needs of a child whose life experiences are completely different from her own.
Q: What is your favorite aspect of the Rainbow Village program? What do you feel is the most impactful element?
A: Our favorite aspect of Rainbow Village is that the residents are empowered. Dignity is important to everyone and sometimes our culture forgets that. Rainbow Village allows the parents to lead the family, but they come alongside to support them as they transition to being on their own. It’s not a rut to get stuck in, it’s a flowing stream that leads people to fulfill the dreams they have for their lives. The support they offer is what makes Rainbow Village’s impact so significant – from programs like Early Childhood Development Center and After-School program for kids and life skills classes for adults to the staff and volunteers that feed into and lift up the residents.
Q: Why do you believe others should volunteer at RV?
A: Computers, food, financial donations, and the like can’t do what people can do. Yes, all donations are important, but it’s the face-to-face time complete with smiles, hugs, and conversations that have a lasting impact. We’ve seen times when we were short on volunteers after school, and it’s back to what the students get all day at school: one adult for a classroom of kids. They get a whole lot more out of smaller group or one-on-one interactions. Beyond the After-School program, there is a wide variety of volunteer positions at Rainbow Village – anyone can find a fit. Time is a resource we all have the same amount of, and we should use it wisely. We believe that includes an investment in the well-being of others.
Q: Has there been a standout moment when you felt you were really making an impact on the life of a Rainbow Village family/resident?
A: While we have great moments with Rainbow Village kids every week, we often leave before parents arrive to pick up their children. There was one afternoon where the mom of a sweet girl came in the room as we were wrapping up homework and I had the opportunity to bless that mama with compliments about her daughter and let her know what a great job she’s doing. Based on her response, it was something she needed to hear that day and it meant the world to me to be able to provide that.
Jodie and Kaelynn Samp homeschool in Lawrenceville and attend church at Parkway Baptist in Duluth, but travel all over the place for extracurricular activities, classes, and great volunteer opportunities, like Rainbow Village! To learn more about the wide variety of volunteer opportunities and how YOU could become a volunteer at Rainbow Village, please visit our Volunteer page at RainbowVillage.org.
Thank you, Jodie, Kaelynn and all our volunteers, for all that you do to make Rainbow Village a force for change and a community of transformation for homeless families in need!