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The eldest of four, Stephanie Allen has always adored children. Even in college, when the demands of studying and her sorority cut into her free time, she found time to make them part of her life by volunteering with local children's groups.
But as sometimes happens with young professionals, Allen's volunteering got squeezed out of the schedule once school ended.
Getting ahead as a professional, making new friends as a young adult -- who can argue these aren't high priorities? The question for many young people, though, is how to balance a busy life with a deeply personal commitment to making a difference.
Allen, for one, wasn't going to give up.
"One of my resolutions for 2007 was to get involved with an organization that will allow me to work with children once again and give back to a wonderful community," she said.
VolunteerMatch was a big part of getting Allen back on track. By searching for opportunities with "Children & Youth" near her ZIP code, she found links to the Web sites of dozens of charities with open volunteer roles.
Her research eventually brought Allen to Starlight Starbright Children's Foundation, and she was hooked.
Starlight Starbright is a national nonprofit that helps the families of sick children cope with their situation through entertainment, education, and relaxing family outings -- or Great Escapes. Allen was particularly drawn to the outings, which bring patients and their families to picnics, movie screenings, sports events, and other places to relax, regroup and return home with a renewed sense of strength.
"I missed seeing the smiles on children's faces when I tell a silly joke or listen to them tell stories," she said. "Starlight Starbright seemed like a way to make a difference in the lives of children whose lives haven't always been as blessed as mine."
Today, getting back involved in the lives of children helped her to discover something that was missing for her, and also changed how Allen views her own potential in life.
"Sometimes this world seems so big, and I feel like, 'Gosh, I'm only one person, how am I ever going to make a difference?'" she said. "I like to remind myself that to the world I may be one person -- but hopefully to one person, I can mean the world."
Did you know that you, too, can make a difference for others? It's possible when you give back by volunteering. And VolunteerMatch can help you find the perfect opportunity. Log in today!