SFBFS Volunteer Spotlight – August 2011
Volunteers often bring more than just their time to Sacramento Food Bank & Family Services (SFBFS). Many bring their talents, their professional training, their enthusiasm for serving others and their desire to make an impact in the community. T. Jackson is a volunteer at SFBFS who brings all of the above on a regular basis. She has been volunteering in the PlayCare and Youth Academy programs at SFBFS’ Saca Community Learning Center since April 2010.
On Friday mornings, T. can be found surrounded by ten to twenty toddlers, sitting on the floor in PlayCare, playing guitar and singing. Her educational background in music therapy helps her to create a special bond with the children who are initially resistant to participating. “Some kids are shy and keep to themselves,” she says. “You can tell they want to join the crowd but their shyness keeps them from it. I like to be the person to pay attention to those kids and help them join in.” As someone who grew up with ten siblings, this is an important priority for T.
T. has a wide variety of interests and a passion for lifelong learning. She began to pursue a career in music therapy as an adult. After taking classes at Sierra College and University of the Pacific, T. completed an internship at UC Davis Children’s Hospital, getting hands-on experience working with youth ages 6 months to 23 years. Currently, T. runs a unique business, offering music therapy to clients at in-home childcare centers and schools, as well as one-on-one. She also teaches private guitar and piano lessons. She is passionate about advocating for Hispanic and African-American children, and despite her busy schedule, makes time to volunteer.
She recalls one of the first children she met in the PlayCare program, a three year old girl who barely spoke. "Her mother was so concerned that she wasn’t talking," T. says. Working together by singing songs and playing instruments eventually gave the little girl an opportunity to express herself. "She’s now entering first grade and talking a lot!" says T. "Sometimes when children are quiet, parents think that they’re delayed," she explains. "I encourage parents to never underestimate what their kids can do. By doing this, you will open doors for them to accomplish whatever they want."
In addition to PlayCare, T. plans to spend more time volunteering with the older children in Youth Academy. "I have always loved volunteering. It’s fun!" says T. She continues to further her education by taking classes in Early Childhood Education and Special Education, hoping to complete a Master’s Degree in the next few years. In her spare time, T. loves playing music, singing and gardening. She can be found every Sunday singing jazz at a restaurant in Placerville. T. is always planning her future adventures and encourages other to do the same. "Make preparations for your dreams, even if they aren’t happening right away," she says. With her talent, passion and professional experience, T. continues to make a big difference in the lives of all the children in the youth programs at SFBFS.