Volunteer of the week: Bridgett Stone, Alternative Winter Experience
Published 6:40 pm Wednesday, December 18, 2013
Bridgette is a senior at Western Michigan University pursuing a degree in child and family development with a minor in psychology. She is a 2010 graduate of Niles High School. She is currently in Memphis, Tenn., volunteering with WMU’s Alternative Bronco Breaks program.
What do you do for Alternative Bronco Breaks?
Either during spring, summer or winter break you take a week and go to help out different organizations across the country. They all deal with a specific issue like poverty, immigration, children with special needs or children with terminal illnesses.
My focus is on working with hospitalized children. We are currently in Memphis and we are volunteering at the Ronald McDonald House of St. Jude. During this week we are helping out with a holiday store. They have toys for kids, clothes, things for mom and dad, things for teens — things that were donated. My group organized a couple different shops and we’ve been helping people pick out gifts for their families, helping kids pick out things for their parents and just helping them celebrate the holiday season together.
We left Sunday morning and we will be returning Friday night.
Is this an optional thing for WMU students?
This is optional. A lot of times kids need volunteer hours for different programs, but I just love volunteering. My first trip, I went over spring break this past year and ended up on the same trip. I volunteered at the (St. Jude’s) Target House (in Memphis). I was just a participant because it was my first time. This time I am a site leader, which means I help get the trip ready, help new participants figure out what to do and kind of be a mom on the trip. I want to work at a children’s hospital so this has been a blessing to me. It’s a vacation to me and I love it. I plan on doing a third one (Bronco Breaks) before I graduate.
What has this experience been like for you?
It’s awesome. Being a site leader is really rewarding because a lot of participants have never been on this trip before. Every night we talk about our highs of the day and it makes me so proud to listen to all the participants talk about how they are having so much fun engaging with the patients and the families. They talk about how the experience is so eye opening, about how blessed you are and how much you have compared to other people.
What do you enjoy most about volunteering?
Definitely giving back to the families. It helps me put in perspective what I am blessed with. Also, being able to share those blessings and positivity to help someone out is so awesome. It is not only rewarding, but I have a heart to serve people and to help others.
To be able to do that, especially with families that are going through such a devastating time around the holiday season, it is so worth the 10-hour drive through the snow and having to eat PB and Js for lunch. It is so worth it.