Later this month, Reach will celebrate National Volunteer Week from April 23-29. At our Annual Meeting in February, Reach congratulated our Volunteers of the Year, Matt & Marie Rohman for their work with our adaptive recreation programs. Hear their story about volunteering with Reach, as told by Matt below!
I started with softball in 2002. My friend’s mom signed me and him up, telling us it would look good for college applications. I didn’t know anything about it so just went along. It ended up being a blast – there was a group of us coaches who would go get Dairy Queen or something afterwards and jokingly critique the others’ coaching abilities and swap stories from some of the more animated players.
I had a great time doing it over summer breaks in college (U of M) and Marie stated coaching with me as we were dating in 2009.
Every year and every week we coach we feel that we get more and more out of it. It doesn’t matter how bad of a day or week we’ve had, when we get to softball and the players are literally jumping with excitement to see you, you can’t help but smile. Going through a game, encouraging the players, pointing out their progress, and getting excited with them when they do something good is the best morale booster I’ve ever personally experienced.
The personal friendships made with the players is amazing too. It means so much to us knowing that despite having difficulty with a lot of things, a lot of players ask us about our day, about our dog, complement our haircuts, etc. I can’t imagine more people at one single gathering who are as genuinely kind and happy as the softball and basketball players. Marie and I usually take a lesson away from each game about being better people ourselves from what we learn from the players. It’s almost like church but a lot more fun.
Interacting regularly with people with developmental disabilities has absolutely made me a better person with more compassion and empathy in all aspects of my life. If these players can show up every week with a great attitude, work on improving their skills, and have no fear of talking with anyone about anything; what excuse do I have for being afraid to ask for something, being unsure in a social situation, not trying to improve myself, or walking around with a bad attitude?
Thank you again to Matt & Marie for their wonderful volunteer service with Reach! Interested in volunteering? Visit our Volunteer Page and fill out an application!
Don’t forget to look out for more volunteer stories on social media during National Volunteer Week!