"Volunteering is so much more than you could ever expect it to be."
Aubrey Poppen, 15, of Holland, Michigan, directs a children's choir in her community.
What kind of philanthropic or volunteer work did/do you do?
Aubrey: I direct a kids' choir at my church for second to sixth graders. I was the drama coach, choreographer, and music director for our production of "Sermon on the Mound".
What is the name and location of the organization?
Aubrey: Beechwood Reformed Church in Holland, Michigan.
Tell us about the project, especially who benefits from this work.
Aubrey: The kids are really inspired to break out of their shells and sing and dance, and sometimes even preform solo in front of a community that loves them.
What inspired you to get involved?
Aubrey: I have a passion for helping kids and I love my church. Those two things are something my heart really feels for.
How did you first get involved? Through school? Your parents? Give us some details.
Aubrey: My mom is a choral director in a public school district, so someone from the church asked her to get involved. She was too busy to be the main director so I took over the position!
What is/was the best thing about your experience?
Aubrey: The hugs from kids that love you, and the gratification from the parents who are so proud of their children.
What is/was the hardest part?
Aubrey: Having the time to prepare choreography and new music.
What was the biggest surprise?
Aubrey: One time we were scheduled to sing in church, but barely anyone showed up. The choir has about forty to fifty kids and only around ten showed up. We found out it was because of daylight savings time!
What new things have you learned as a result of your experience and how have you changed as a result?
Aubrey: I feel that I'm much more responsible due to my role as a leader to these kids. I've learned how to be so much more than a typical teen. I am really preparing for the real world!
What advice would you give to someone who is thinking of getting involved in philanthropy or volunteering?
Aubrey: Volunteering is so much more than you could ever expect it to be. Sure it makes you feel like you made a difference, but even beyond that, there's such an accomplished feeling to see how what you gave up hugely impacts a larger group of people.
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