Ville Markus Kieloniemi, 2015
Hi all, my name is Ville Markus and I come from Finland. I hold a degree of Financial Management and I work in the retail industry at the moment. In early 2015 I volunteered three months for Sprout and I decided to come back to NYC in the beginning of 2016. I found out about Sprout when I was volunteering in Spain. The Finnish organization which sent me to Spain informed me about upcoming collaboration with Volunteers For Peace. They sent my contact information to Volunteers For Peace and they told me about opportunity to volunteer for Sprout.
My first Sprout trip was to Philadelphia. We had a group of teenagers with developmental disabilities, so the group was full of energy. We spent an unforgettable week in Philadelphia, where we saw many museums as Philadelphia is a very historical city. We ate well and played a lot of games at Dave & Busters, we had nice evening walks after dinner at park with participants, we did some shopping at the mall and of course we did not miss the famous Rocky Steps. All of the participants loved the idea to visit those world-famous steps. We also did a Duck Tour ride, which happened to be the most popular activity on our trip. We all hopped in to the huge car and the driver drove around the city while his colleague kept telling us all the details about the historical monuments we passed on our way. The big surprise was that the driver ended up driving into the water and the car turned into a boat and we got to see the city also from a bit different point of view. Participants absolutely loved that activity.
The best part of volunteering at Sprout was the opportunity to do something that really matters to someone. Being able to make the difference in the participants’ lives is something priceless. You also get to learn a lot of new things about yourself, your participants and your co-leaders. It is great opportunity to work with people from different backgrounds and it always makes trips a bit more interesting.
Volunteering at Sprout is hard work, since you have a lot of responsibilities as a leader, but at the same time it is rewarding. The feeling you get after a successful Sprout trip is unforgettable. You see all those tired, but happy participants who keep constantly repeating how awesome the trip was. They also usually let you know how they cannot wait until the next Sprout trip, and that’s when you know that the trip you lead was successful.
I would definitely recommend others to join to team Sprout and give a try to this awesome volunteering experience even if you would not have earlier experience working in a disability field. When I started to volunteer at Sprout, I did not have an experience in the disability field at all. Working in the retail industry, it is all about the profit and numbers. It is more likely profit before people in retail industry. That is why I wanted to volunteer, to do something different, something that really matters to someone. My decision to volunteer for Sprout was one of the greatest decisions I ever made in my life. Working as a volunteer at Sprout, you are never really alone. Your co-leaders have always your back and you get through the challenges together as a team. The office team also supports you with every concern you may have, so be brave and take the first step towards this awesome opportunity to volunteer at Sprout.