Volunteer Spotlight: Joining the Village

Sowmya Selvarajan, community volunteer, has become a favorite regular at Gift of Time respite events. She was first drawn to volunteering with Gift of Time due to her love for kids with special needs. “I believe it’s true that it takes a village to raise a child and that is even more true for kids on the spectrum,” she remarked, “I want to be part of their village.”

Sowmya appreciates the insight she has gained from her ongoing engagement in the special needs’ community and says she is most surprised by the knowledge that she acquires every time she volunteers.

Sowmya first connected with Washington Autism Alliance & Advocacy through Volunteermatch.org. Since then, she has been a regular at the quarterly Gift of Time parent respite events, working one-on-one with kids and helping manage and lead our most recent event last month.  

Connecting with a special friend.

“I’ve been doing this for over two years.” commented Sowmya, “I love how the kids recognize me with big warm smiles when they come back.”

Gift of Time gives parents of kids with autism a four hour respite, while at the same time providing an opportunity for meaningful social interaction for kids on the spectrum.

A favorite memory of Sowmya’s is from her first time volunteering at Gift of Time. She was paired with a nonverbal 17-year-old young man on the spectrum and felt completely lost at the start. With encouragement, training, and support from WAAA staff, she gained confidence with her new friend. Toward the end of the day he took her hand and put it on his forehead when he wanted to sleep. She recalls fondly, “it was so rewarding – it was like he accepted me in his circle.”

A truly compassionate humanitarian at heart, Sowmya remarks, “volunteering and giving back to the community are the only ways to to gain experience and real happiness in life.”

Our next Gift of Time is scheduled for Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, Monday, January 15, 2018, for children ages 5-10. To learn more about this or other volunteering opportunities at WAAA, visit our website or contact the office at 425-894-7231.

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