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Learning to love kids, not "tolerate" them: Shannon's story

Working with children was a passion of Shannon's for years. A previous "Big Sister", Shannon searched for volunteer opportunities in her new city of Pittsburgh when she moved there in 2008.

"I specifically wanted to work with disadvantaged and at-risk youth," says Shannon. This was where the majority of her experience was. After finding a position on for Earthen Vessels Outreach, Shannon worked with second grade and middle school girls as a tutor, a mentor and a summer camp intern.

“Volunteering has changed me by showing me the need for good mentors in people's lives, especially female ones. To have your mother be ten years older than you and be just as confused as you are must be difficult. If I can help be someone stable in their life, that makes me feel like I am making a difference.”
College adds stress to Shannon’s life, but she says, “the kids take that all away”. “When they scream ‘MS. SHANNON’ at the top of their lungs I am just overjoyed with glee and happiness.”

On tolerating kids: “Working with EVO has shown me how to develop mentoring skills and communication skills and how to deal with patience and understanding. Many people "tolerate" kids, but EVO shows you how to love them. EVO also shows you that kids know love and that we must take an initiative in making sure they’re learning the right love.”

On favorite memories: One of my fondest memories is hanging out with Janay, who now calls me her sister. She’s 14, and watches everything I do. We work through issues together, like her language or behavior, and she even gave me a birthday card when I turned 20. I call her my sister too—and love her like the sister I never had growing up.”