Lani’s Virtual Volunteering Experience

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Rebecca Kalimi ’23

Our lives have almost completely shifted online, and people have been taking advantage of it. We now have opportunities to virtually travel around the world, high school students are able to take college tours from the comfort of their homes, and it is now easier than ever to volunteer from the comfort of your bedroom. 

Lani Khan ’23 is involved with Teen Scene (the Ramaz Friendship Circle Club) and Yachad. She loves volunteering for Friendship Circles’ holiday specials, she’s also involved in SBH (Sephardi Bikkur Cholim) where she calls elderly citizens living at home and enjoys talking to them about their week. She is also the sophomore Yachad Ambassador along with Daniel Kalimi ’23 and Alex Paul ’23. 

Kahn explained that, at the beginning of quarantine, Friendship Circle had “Sunday Circle” activities. They had just switched to online programs, so everyone was new to the virtual dynamic. The activities were a lot more limited with a game or two followed by breakout rooms, where the volunteers could talk to their special needs buddies. Now, the virtual activities have become more advanced. Sara Gutnick, who leads Friendship Circle UES, will use different online games or show cartoon videos. 

With the Sephardi Bikkur Cholim program, when students were first given volunteer opportunities, they had more freedom and less supervision over when the volunteers were to call the elderly. Now, the program has a time schedule for calls. Kahn also appreciates the template the program recently gave her with talking points. Kahn is able to refer to the document in case the conversion is not flowing. 

Kahn is also actively involved in Yachad. Last year, the Yachad school ambassadors had a full-school assembly on Zoom. They played a Kahoot and challenged the listeners to consider what inclusion really means. Kahn said that Yachad moved many of their programs online, like a Virtual Yachad Buddies program.

Kahn has found a way to bring light to  those in need during this pandemic. She likes volunteering both online and in-person because “volunteering isn’t about the activities and improvements, but it’s about the relationship you build with the person.” The special needs kids and teens she hangs out with are still the same people, and they still share the same relationship. Although it may have been easier before the pandemic, Kahn and her friends can still meet together and build on their incredible relationship.

“Especially during quarantine, we’ve all been able to reflect on ourselves and think about the people we want to become. Volunteering is something that is so easy to make a part of your life and doesn’t need to be hard or annoying. You can make not only your life better, but really make someone’s day. And after everything we’ve gone through, anyone who has a small inclination to volunteer with one of these programs should try because it’s so easy yet so powerful!” Kahn thinks we should all try to be as involved as possible with these types of opportunities because of how big of an impact just a couple of minutes can have.