The cool thing about volunteering to help others is that it’s usually the volunteer ends up being helped.
Any nonprofit manager or pastor can tell you that.
And so can Robert Buelna and Janeth Wilson.
Buelna is a sophomore at Texas Tech University and Wilson attends Frenship High School in Wolfforth, Texas.
When they first began volunteering with Buckner, they said they had no idea the impact it would have on their lives. They wanted to change children’s lives for the better. Instead, it was their own hearts that were changed.
The two had attended Frenship High School and were involved with DECA, an organization that prepares emerging leaders to be college and career ready. Their DECA sponsor, Amy Baker, was a former Buckner foster parent, and she encouraged them to consider serving foster children and families.
They knew how much children in foster care had been through and believed it would take time to gain their trust. But they were dedicated to building a relationship with the children by volunteering at events where they could foster those relationships.
“With some kids – because of their past – it was more difficult for them to open up,” Buelna said. “Once they realized that we weren’t going anywhere they started to act like themselves.”
As they began serving more with Buckner, Buelna and Wilson saw the walls the children had built up slowly crumble down. At each event where they volunteered, their relationships with the children continued to grow. Slowly, the children began to see them as true friends. Seeing the impact they were making, Robert and Janeth were inspired and looked forward to future volunteer opportunities with Buckner.
“I loved walking into an event where I was volunteering and hearing my name,” Wilson said. “It was a special moment knowing that there were kids who remembered me, despite the number of people that go in and out of their lives. I was a familiar face that brought them joy and they were the same to me.”
But the two said it was their lives that were transformed much more than they expected.
Both credit their Buckner volunteering as the catalyst for choosing their future career paths. Buelna is studying to become a pediatrician, and Wilson plans to attend the University of Texas with intentions to work with special needs children at an elementary school. She also is volunteering as a CASA worker.
As well as bringing career goals to fruition, volunteering has also changed the way Buelna looks at his daily life. He was inspired by the way the children always had smiles on their faces despite what was going on in their lives.
“It taught me to find the good in every situation no matter how hard it is,” he said.
On Nov. 2, the DECA program of Frenship High School was recognized as the most outstanding youth group volunteer organization of 2016. Both Robert and Janeth were present to accept the award.
“While we thought we were changing the lives of those in need, those precious children were really changing us,” Wilson said.
This article appeared in its original form at Buckner.org.