PAL Q&A: Janet Glenn-Horizons For Homeless Children
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PAL Q&A: Janet Glenn

Playspace Activity Leader Janet Glenn with PAL

When did you start with Horizons?
February 2009

Why did you start with Horizons?
My children were going off to college and I had the time to volunteer. I wanted to give back since I have been fortunate enough to have so few obstacles in life.

When are your weekly shifts?
Wednesday mornings 9:00 – 11:30.

What do you enjoy most about being a PAL?
I love observing and enjoying the various personalities of the different children and getting to know the parents, too. I love watching the children interact with each other in the Playspace and I love to see how they react to different projects. I am big on art projects. I find young children’s creativity almost magical. I love seeing a quiet or overly rambunctious new child settle into the shelter.

Why would you recommend being a PAL?
I’d recommend it because not only are you doing something positive, but it is fun and personally rewarding. The volunteer and the shelter are both benefiting from it. And volunteering is very uplifting – you leave the shelter with a little skip in your step.

Are there any specific stories or moments that stick out for you?
One standard thing my PAL partner, Lori-Ann, and I do is play a sing along book called “I Got Two Dogs” by Jon Lithgow. It involves singing and howling and almost yodeling. At first the kids stare at Lori-Ann and I as if we are so weird, and then they want to hear it again and again. Before you know it, they too – at first softly and then very loudly – would be howling and yodeling along.

What impact has volunteering at Horizons had on your life?
Volunteering makes me feel good and it also broadens my horizons (no pun intended). It opens me up to people I normally would not get the privilege of knowing. Also, my PAL partner has become a dear friend and I feel very grateful for that.

What one piece of advice would you give to a new PAL?
It can feel overwhelming at first but that is short lived! The great thing about the program is that it allows you to interact with the children in your own personal way. Different PALs use their Playspace time so differently, so volunteering becomes an avenue for expressing the uniqueness of you and your partner.

Is there anything else about your experience that you’d like to share?
One good thing about this volunteer experience is that you can have other commitments and still be a dedicated volunteer. If a family member gets sick or any emergency comes up, missing a session does not mean that you are not following through in our commitment. Sometimes I think people hesitate to volunteer because they are afraid that they cannot meet the commitment 100%.

I have been paired with many wonderful PAL partners, but I really love working with Lori-Ann. Our philosophies on how to interact with the kids and what is and is not important (keeping the room neat is not important to us!) are very compatible. I learn from some of the insights she has about the kids. It adds just another dimension to the volunteering. Because she is not as mobile as I am, we take on different roles in the room. And that happens without any thought or discussion.

Published on September 20, 2016