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Jessica is a second-year science student at UBC, and she’s so much more than that. Over the summer, she spent almost every day volunteering with the KidSafe Writers’ Room literacy program, and she became a role model, a mentor and a friend to every child she worked with—and to the other volunteers, too. 

Shirley, age 8, loved working with Jessica this summer because "She’s cool and fun and helps me write!"

Kelly, age 10, and Helena, age 8, interviewed Jessica about her volunteering experience.

Kelly and Helena: How long have you been a volunteer?
Jessica: I’ve been a volunteer with the KidSafe Writers’ Room for about two months now.

Why did you choose to be a volunteer?
I thought volunteering would be a great way to gain new knowledge while also being helpful to people who needed my help. When I started to look at some volunteer postings I was kind of (read: extremely) picky; I wanted to volunteer with an organization doing something that I felt strongly for. Once I found the KidSafe Writers’ Room and learned more about what KidSafe does for the community, I thought that this was exactly what I was looking for: directly influencing people by helping them, being there for them and just being their friends.

Where else have you volunteered?
I volunteer on a regular basis at home when there is one slice of leftover cake that needs to be consumed. Most of the time, my brother volunteers with me, so we split the slice in half. Other than “volunteering” at home, KidSafe is actually the first official organization I’ve ever volunteered with! 

How old are you?
At the moment, I am eighteen, but I will be turning nineteen in September. 

How old were you when you first chose to be a volunteer?
I wanted to start volunteering when I was fifteen in high school. However, I was really busy with my schoolwork, being in the partial IB (International Baccalaureate) program, and I also had several extracurricular activities that I was already committed to, so I never got a chance to be a volunteer. It was after my first year of university that I really had the chance. . . So I was eighteen when I first became a volunteer. Haha. 

Were you good at it when you first started to volunteer?
No. On my first day with the KidSafe Writers’ Room, I felt really awkward because I wasn’t really sure how I should act. I felt like I was out of place. Through observing Sarah, the spectacular Writers’ Room coordinator; the KidSafe staff members; and the other volunteers, I slowly began to understand how to interact with the children and grew increasingly more comfortable. I like to think that I have improved a lot, but I still have a lot to learn, so through my powers of observation, I will keep on observing them to hone my skills.

What do you do other than being a volunteer?
During the school year, I go on adventures with only my backpack around the UBC campus. I travel from building to building, sometimes on uneven concrete pavement, through massive herds of students, climbing uphill and downhill, all done in order to attend classes and learn from masters of great intellect, my professors. Then I go home and study. I also like music. I play the piano, but right now, I really want to learn how to play guitar. 

Do you like volunteering with us? If yes, why?
Yes, I love volunteering with KidSafe! The kids are so much fun to be around; they have so much energy, and doing the activities with them was an awesome experience. I also had the chance to learn from amazing guest speakers, so it’s a good thing I was there to hear so many of those presentations!

What other thing would you rather do other than volunteering?
Other than volunteering, I love singing in harmony with other people. Not that I’m good at it; I have to learn the harmonies first. The melodies are the easiest to hear, and that’s what makes learning and singing harmonies interesting; they’re more challenging! 

Are you happy to be the Volunteer of the Summer?
I am absolutely thrilled to be Volunteer of the Summer! Wow, I am so honoured to receive this title. Thank you! 

No, Jessica. Thank you! The summer program wouldn't have been such a huge success without you.