We recently interviewed adult mentor, Madeleine Vadenais (pictured right) and asked about her experience with Hands4Hope. Here's what she had to say...
How long have you been participating with Hands4Hope?
I have been participating for over 3 years.
What were the reasons you joined Hands4Hope?
I joined H4H because I wanted to give back to the community with an organization separate from my son's activities. Previously all my volunteer work centered around my son - from school activities to Scouts. I wanted my own place to volunteer. Ironically, I chose an organization where most of the adult volunteers are volunteering with their kids! I love working with youth of all ages so H4H was a great fit.
What outreaches do you usually volunteer with and enjoy the most? And why?
I originally began volunteering for the Haunted House 3 years ago. Jennifer needed someone to create processes and manage ticket sales for the Haunted House. I'm an organizational geek so it was fun to create the process. I love working with the public so that was an amazing experience too. Many of the people visiting the Haunted House didn't know anything about Hands4Hope so it was an opportunity to do some community outreach for an amazing organization.
Later I started volunteering for Sister Nora’s with another amazing adult volunteer Gen Walk. Each month we and 4 youth make a dinner and share it with the ladies who reside at Sister Nora’s Place. Sister Nora's Place provides long-term shelter and case management for women with a history of homelessness, trauma, and serious mental and physical illness. These women are often times society’s most vulnerable and forgotten people.
As much as I love the Haunted House, Sister Nora’s gives me more pleasure than I can even express. When I get down on myself or am feeling ungrateful for all the amazing things in my life, I see these amazing ladies and how much they have overcome. It gives me a shot of reality and another reason to be thankful for all the gifts I have been given. We cooked them cheeseburgers a few months back and you would've thought we served them filet mignon! They were incredibly grateful.
What is your impression/experience with the H4H youth?
My impression of the Hands4Hope youth is that they are amazing and incredibly high achieving young people! I'm continuously amazed that even with AP or advanced classes they still put in many hours volunteering. Many of them far beyond what they need for community service hours.
Overall, what has your experience been like since joining?My experience has been incredibly positive since joining. I'm continuously impressed with the organization's mission and values. They're not just words, they are put into practice and modeled by the Executive Director. These youth are continually learning through their experiences both good and bad. My job is to advise them and keep them safe. Sometimes that means I allow them to make mistakes, and hopefully they learn from them. The youth don't always do what I would do as an adult but often times I'm surprised at the positive outcomes from a different approach. Volunteering for Hands4Hope has helped me learn there is more than one way to do things and my way isn't always the best way (but don't tell my husband that).