The Trickle Down Effect of Volunteering

 In Health, Our Mission

I first heard about CoachArt many years ago, but after becoming a parent myself I looked at the world in a new light, and organizations dedicated to helping children took on an entirely new meaning to me.  As I learned more about the widespread impact that CoachArt was having on children suffering from chronic illness, I knew my interest in getting more involved had gone beyond just attending the annual fundraising benefit.

To get to know the work of CoachArt firsthand I signed up to volunteer at an eight week Basketball Camp in Oakland.  While I’m not the world’s best athlete, I was encouraged by Coach Megan that I didn’t need to be a WNBA player to participate as a Coach, and my job was to make sure CoachArt kids felt safe and supported so they could experience the true joys of being a part of a team.  I couldn’t predict how volunteering would completely reshape the way in which I look at CoachArt – participating as a volunteer gave me a first hand look at how CoachArt goes about providing transformative experiences for chronically ill children.

It was inspiring to see how spending just two hours every week in a community gymnasium in Oakland had a profound trickle down effect on not just the children, but the parents, siblings, volunteers and just about anybody else within earshot of the gym. During our last session, I noticed even the gym coordinator couldn’t help but stand in the doorway with a smile on his face while he observed the kids participate in a very competitive game of Cat and Mouse.  He clearly got a good chuckle out of watching everyone (volunteers included) try their hand at dribbling backwards, which is definitely not as easy as Coach Megan made it look.

I got to know a lot of the kids that participated in the camp but there was one child in particular that always put a smile on my face, 7 year old Alex.  On numerous occasions he would turn to me and ask, “how many scores do we have?” in hopes that I could tell him our team was winning by a wide margin.  I spent some time with Alex’s parents and learned that Saturday was the only day of the week that doesn’t require an alarm clock to get Alex out of bed. They said “Saturday’s are different for Alex because of CoachArt.  He’s always the first one up and ready to go.” They also shared how thrilled they were to see Alex go from a timid observer standing on the sidelines on the first day of camp to one of the more animated and improved kids on the court by the end of the session.  It had been such a frustrating experience for them to see Alex struggle in other forms of organized sports because of their overly competitive nature, and they attributed Alex’s elevated sense of self confidence to the time spent with the CoachArt volunteers and other kids.  Hearing how CoachArt had impacted Alex’s life was such an amazing example of a true success story and example of the important work that CoachArt is doing in the community.

I am honored to serve on the Board of Directors, and am continually amazed at the accomplished and selfless group of Board members and staff who dedicate their lives to helping children in need.  As a board member, donor, and a volunteer, I can honestly say that my experience is probably very similar to many of you who have been touched by CoachArt – it almost feels selfish when you realize that the inspiration you glean from interacting with this awesome group of people is far greater than what you can ever give back.  That to me is a win, win, win for everyone involved.

Regan Scovic is a longtime CoachArt supporter who joined the San Francisco Bay Area Board of Directors in 2014.  She is the chair of the 2015 CoachArt Children’s Benefit and a Basketball Club Coach.