School secretary Therese Ziecina helped propose a volunteer-leadership development program at her school. At the introductory event her son Raymond made a surprise speech.
“I’m a graduate of Marquardt Middle School,” my son, Raymond, confidently shared with 40 seventh graders at the event in October.
“I have an IEP, I have learning struggles, just like many of you. At the beginning of 7th grade I was classified as a non-reader. I could only read two- and three-letter words. There was a teacher, Mrs. McDonald, who took an interest in me and wanted to help me learn to read. I didn’t think it would work, but I gave it a try. By the time I graduated from 8th grade I was reading at an almost 6th grade level. During that same time another teacher, Mr. Gentry, asked me to help out with the sound and lighting at a school play. About the same time, Daniel, a pastor from my church (who is sitting over there), asked me to volunteer on the video team at my church. I didn’t think I’d like it, but I gave it a try. Volunteering on that video team led me to my chosen career. Now, in my last year of college at Indiana Wesleyan University, I am thankful for these mentors. I encourage you to say yes to every opportunity to volunteer, even if you think you are not going to like it. You never know where those opportunities will lead you.”
My son Raymond gave this speech spontaneously after several school administrators shared their planned remarks. He surprised everyone and asked if he could share too. I was shocked and humbled at his honesty. I fought back joyful tears.
I saw in that moment how God has used volunteer opportunities, caring adults, and educational struggles to enable him to help others. God always had a plan for my son. I am so proud that he was able to turn his struggles into a way to bless others.
This is why the Marquardt Middle School Serving Society exists. We wanted to give students, who may not normally have the opportunity, to volunteer. Our hope was that students would benefit from leadership and citizenship skills cultivated in them. For the past year, the Student Serving Society has partnered with the youth programming staff at Bloomingdale Church. We have seen huge strides in social growth in many of these students.