August 30, 2012
Sharing time with others brings great rewards for all
When Megan Kaba moved to Dallas in 2011, she was ready to deal with intense summer heat and raging Cowboys’ fans.
More important to her though, she was ready to immerse herself in her new community and give back.
“Volunteering seemed a great way to do that,” she says.
Megan visited the United Way of Metropolitan Dallas website and found a diverse list of Education volunteer opportunities. Her interest was piqued by the opportunities with LIFT (Literacy Instruction for Texas), a United Way service provider that teaches adults to read and write — opening the door to employment opportunities, financial stability and self-sufficiency.
Since April 2012, Megan has volunteered once a week for two hours after work. She and a fellow volunteer lead North Texas adults through a GED prep course. On a typical night, they tutor six adults through a self-paced curriculum.
“It’s been really great,” Megan says. “Everyone is here because they want to be. They’re so focused and determined. It’s just been wonderful to work with them and get to know them.”
Those one-on-one connections, she says, have been immensely rewarding.
“Some of the students open up and share their hardships,” she says. “A lot of them haven’t received the support they need for their educational pursuits. But they come here each week and work so hard. It’s really inspiring.”
In the past, Megan had engaged in one-time volunteer opportunities but she says sharing her time in an ongoing volunteer effort is “a lot more rewarding.”
“When you really immerse yourself in the effort, it gives you a new perspective,” she says. “The more you put in, the more you get out of it.”
Each year, the LIFT Adult Literacy program — which also receives a grant from the United Way Community Impact Fund — provides thousands of North Texas adults with skills they can use to get better jobs.
“United Way support enables LIFT to provide a life-changing gift that empowers individuals to leave poverty forever,” says Lauren McCarthy, communications manager for LIFT. She adds that the feedback LIFT receives from United Way staff and grants volunteers has helped the organization strengthen its overall grant writing and fundraising.
LIFT also appreciates the help of United Way volunteers like Megan, who initially wondered if she would be able to effectively help her students through their course work. “I thought, ‘How much knowledge do I need?’” she admits. “But the volunteer training took away all that anxiety. It’s really about supporting the students through the problem and guiding them.”
The end result is one in which Megan couldn’t be prouder to play a part: “Everyone has a chance to be successful. That’s the kind of community I want to live in.”
Join Megan: become a reader, tutor or mentor>>