April is Volunteer Appreciation Month
April is National Volunteer Appreciation Month and Deaf Action Center is celebrating by honoring some of our amazing volunteers! From fundraising to administration, clerical, senior citizen activities, and more, volunteers are essential to many of our most successful programs. Recently, our volunteer coordinator Hollie Abraham interviewed a member of our talented team – Alexis McKinney! Here’s what she found out:
- Tell us a little about yourself, your background, family, school, work, hobbies, etc.
My name is Alexis Charae’ McKinney I was born in Hartford, Connecticut on January 24, 1992. My parents’ names are Terry and Terri, I am the youngest of five siblings (three sisters and one brother), and I have one niece. I graduated from Windsor High school in 2010. I moved to Texas upon graduation to attend college. I currently attend Collin College. My major is Sign Language Interpreting and Speech Language Pathology. I have been working for Buffalo Wild Wings for five years and my current position is “Guest Experience Captain”. When I am not working or studying, I enjoy Hanging out with family and friends, playing sports, exercising, volunteering, going shopping, going to the movies, reading , going out to eat, and going to the club. Although I do not have pets of my own I adore my sister’s two dogs: Leah and Peanut. Most people would describe me as adventurous, friendly, kind, generous, outgoing, and the “life of the party”. Although, I have moved to Texas, I still visit Connecticut during my winter /summer breaks.
- How did you become associated with DAC? When/How did you first learn about DAC?
I first became associated with the DAC about two years ago when I was in ASL 2 or Deaf Culture class. We had to do a Deaf event for class.
- Why did you decide to volunteer for DAC?
I decided to volunteer because I was not taking any ASL classes this semester because there were not offering Interpreting 1, so I felt this would be a great asset to keep up with Sign Language and better my skills.
- Why did you pick DAC rather than another nonprofit organization?
When I first went to the DAC, I was very nervous and did not know what to expect. However, I had a great time there and the people made me very comfortable and the atmosphere was amazing. From my first visit, I decided to go to the DAC every time I needed a deaf event for my ASL classes.
- What were some of the myths you had originally regarding DAC and/or Deaf people?
I did not have any myths about DAC; however, I would say my myth about Deaf people were that Deaf people have a very limited lifestyle.
- How did volunteering shatter those myths?
I would say between my ASL classes and volunteering, I’ve learned that Deaf people are extremely independent and live perfectly normal lives despite their deafness.
- How many hours do you volunteer per week or month?
I volunteer at least 15 hours a week
- How do the Deaf and hard of hearing people you are interacting with benefit you personally?
I benefit by the Deaf and Hard of Hearing people by learning a variety of signs and more about the Deaf world and the Deaf community. I have also made lasting friendships, and learned that we all want/need the same thing: love, acceptance, and respect.
- What do you gain from volunteering and how has it changed your perspective?
I have gained massive improvement in my receptive/signing skills, it has also taught me to be more confident in myself and to not be nervous or scared around Deaf people, because I realize we are all the same, but just have a different way of communication.
- Where do you see yourself in five years regarding your volunteering?
In five years, I will have completed my degree and feel confident that I will be working in the Deaf community as a professional, and will continue to volunteer in some capacity in the Deaf world.
- What would you like others who are thinking about volunteering for DAC to know?
I would tell people who are interested in volunteering that the DAC is a great and “safe” place to volunteer; and, that you don’t have to be perfectly skilled or certified to volunteer. I also want people to know that they might think that volunteering helps the organization, but the truth is you learn some things about, yourself and possibly prepare yourself for future goals.
- How important is it to volunteer with Deaf Action Center? Does it make a difference?
To me, volunteering at the DAC is very important because it allows me to enhance my skills that one day will be my profession. I refer to my volunteering at DAC, as my “Get Away” because I just love being in the presence of the residents and staff. In general volunteering is important because it gives you the ability to help others, while learning about yourself and helps you grow as an individual.