This month’s Volunteer Spotlight belongs to one of our volunteers, Shayla Rooks. Shayla began volunteering with HandsOn Broward in April, 2013. She first heard about HandsOn Broward through her first service project. “I was informed about HandsOn Broward when the need to complete service hours for graduation came to my attention. I was aware of how my lack of service hours would impact my future in terms of graduating on time. My mother, after noticing this, began her search for a way so that my need for service hours would be fulfilled. During tenth grade, I was introduced to HandsOn Broward and began my first project at Broward Outreach Center. At first, volunteering was just a way to fill the necessary requirements to acquire my forty hours for school. However, as time wore on, I began to realize how important volunteering is and how my efforts contribute to the well-being of others.”
Shayla has volunteered at several projects through HandsOn Broward, beginning with Feeding the Residents at Broward Outreach Center. The first project Shayla volunteered at was called, Broward Outreach. “Broward Outreach gave me a push into the real world. I learned that everything is not as it seems and that even the little things can definitely make a huge difference in the lives of others. Volunteering at Broward Outreach showed me a different perspective of the world besides my own. At Broward Outreach, I enjoyed serving others and knowing that I was making a difference. The atmosphere is friendly and puts me at ease as soon as I walk in the door. While serving those in line, just seeing the looks on their faces and knowing that at least they have one meal, makes me feel very proud to help out in any way I can. She also spent a lot of time volunteering at Greater Horizons Academy during their summer camp. Shayla loves working with kids and how it brings a big smile to their faces. “Going to Greater Horizons is one of the best experiences I had so far. I enjoy working with kids so this was an ideal project to join. Every day I help out wherever it is needed, whether in the nursery with the babies or in the summer camp with the campers. The workers enjoy seeing volunteers helping out and use them as much as possible so I am never sitting idle. I am constantly on my feet interacting with the kids and staff. I love volunteering at Greater Horizons because of the excitement and how much I can learn by just helping out. The kids are wonderful and truly enjoy having me there with them and certainly make me feel as if I am their older sister.” Each project has made a huge, positive impact in her life.
Shayla has had an amazing experience with HandsOn Broward! When asked what advice to give volunteers, Shayla said, “Volunteers should get involved with HandsOn Broward because not only of the multitude of projects available but also because they have a way of making you feel like you are part of the family. By volunteering with HOB, you are joining a family of people who are on your side and help you out in any way they can.”
Shayla’s family has made it a tradition to get involved with volunteerism and giving back to the community (her mother, Janet, is a HandsOn Broward Project Leader). “My mother has always been my prime motivation. Seeing my mother give back to the community and enjoy what she is doing, inspired me to keep going. Her joy and spark for volunteering made me realize how much she enjoys what she does because of the impact she is making on others. Volunteering is a huge tradition in my family and I am proud to pass it on while helping improve the lives of others. I enjoy volunteering because of the joy it gives me. I especially love it when I make someone feel comfortable since that is how I feel every time I volunteer. Volunteering lets me see how much I am making a difference while giving me the opportunity to inspire others as well.”
Shayla has some great advice and inspirational words for new volunteers; “For new volunteers, I would advise them to think about what interests them and go for it. The main reason why you want to do something will push you to give your best every time. Volunteering with the right attitude in mind is always key: remember it’s not what you’re doing, but how you do it. The more you enjoy doing something you love, the more it will be reflected in the work that you do. After a while, it will no longer be thought of as work but instead as another favorite hobby.”