Volunteer In Paradise Program Volunteer Couple Smiles For Webcam Photo

Category : Volunteer

Share the Love: Husband and Wife Strengthen Their Bond by Joining VIP

Wednesday , January 26 , 2022

Written by Diane Hannan

Shortly after our marriage back in 1980, Jim, an electrical engineer, and I, a high school Social Studies teacher, left Long Island, New York, to move to Pittsburgh, PA. The next 39 years were a true adventure as Jim’s career as a technology innovator led to several moves in the U.S. and abroad. With each move we learned how important it is to make connections with co-workers, other parents, neighbors, and faith-based acquaintances to feel a part of the community that we lived in. After a stint in Australia in 2019 we decided to return to Arizona (for the second time).

Upon our return to Arizona, we were newly retired and had a strong desire to resume old friendships and reconnect with the community. I had heard from friends at my church about a volunteer opportunity at Paradise Valley Unified District and I made a call to see what the requirements would be. I was connected with the Volunteer In Paradise (VIP) Coordinator, who ended up being Marisha Geraghty whom I knew from church a few years back. After catching up, Marisha provided information about the VIP program and invited Jim and me to join. We decided to attend VIP Orientation and Training shortly thereafter. However, before we had a chance to be assigned, the world changed. In March of 2020, Paradise Valley along with other school districts across the country closed its schools and learning went online due to the pandemic.

While our original intention was to volunteer independently where Jim would mentor middle school students in the AVID program and I would assist elementary students in reading, COVID had other plans for us and the rest of the world! In the summer of 2020, VIP decided to transition its tutors online and I decided to give it a try even though this is not what I planned. Since the volunteer opportunities became very limited due to the school closures, Jim ended up joining me. We tutored 1st graders in reading at Campo Bello Elementary.

This foray into the virtual classroom was led by Marisha, with the assistance of a teacher and the IT Department but my main assistance was drawn from Jim’s strength. For over 35 years, Jim’s role was to introduce innovation and new technology worldwide, and now he would introduce me to that world as well. He became my companion as I needed his problem-solving ethic on this journey and, in that time, I witnessed his great patience for non-techy people like me. Jim also became the "go-to" person for the influx of virtual tutors Marisha was recruiting for additional schools to provide tutoring online. I was reminded of how our partnership many times over the years worked so well. Our skill sets complemented each other and gave each of us the opportunity to grow and succeed.

When I reflect on what VIP volunteering has meant to me, the experience of volunteering alongside Jim has been one of the most enriching. I hope you will consider volunteering with a friend, family member, or partner because it's a wonderful way to grow a relationship. The pandemic has definitely reminded us how important personal connections to one another are, the importance of education for our children, and how privileged we were to travel and visit all the wonderful places around the world.

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