Lessons learned from volunteering with kids


By Carolyn Bennie

(This is the second in a three-part series.)

So it’s been a while since I stopped in to see the kids at Tessa’s Place in Bettendorf who give me something else to look forward to instead of homework and planning for college (GULP!).

While I might have worried about needing those extra hours to get one thing or another accomplished, I realize now that I needed time with the kids.

I missed the daily challenges and laughed to myself when I remembered the kids. I realized they meant more to me than I had anticipated. The lessons I’ve learned from the 2- through-5-year-olds are more valuable than how to count to 10 or read simple words. I would like to share a few of those lessons now:


One: The words “I’m sorry” and a hug can fix any problem. At Tessa’s Place, we really encourage the kids to apologize whenever they wrong a playmate. Sometimes it takes them a little while, but soon enough the kids are hugging and back to playing house or solving a puzzle.

Two: Don’t make jokes that other people won’t understand; it makes things awkward. Just a few weeks ago, I was outside running around with a little boy, Emit, when he cut his toe on concrete. Now, I can totally relate to his reaction: crying. Cutting your toe hurts. While helping to take care of the injured toe, I asked him, completely joking, if we should cut it off. He didn’t think that was very funny and resumed crying.

Third: Children are really good at taking things you weren’t planning on giving away. For example, my heart. When any boy or girl with special needs holds my hand, they are holding my heart.

Amazing isn’t it? The way little kids touch our hearts in ways that are completely unexpected. Sometimes, I feel sad when I think about the children and their disabilities. I wish the world was good like it is at Tessa’s Place. Where they’re accepted and loved as individuals no matter what. Then I remember that each toddler is perfect and special. I know that if the world can’t see that, than it’s missing out. I also know that I am so lucky to have had this opportunity. I look forward to the next special story I can share with you.

(Carolyn Bennie is a senior at Assumption High School in Davenport. She is writing these articles as a part of her senior religion class service project.  Children’s names have been changed for privacy purposes.)

Support The Catholic Messenger’s mission to inform, educate and inspire the faithful of the Diocese of Davenport – and beyond! Subscribe to the print and/or e-edition, or make a one-time donation, today!

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Posted on