By Hannah Wald, Urban Mitzvah Corps 2016 Participant
One of the three volunteer sites Urban Mitzvah Corps participants work at during the summer is Play SAFE. Play SAFE is a camp for underprivileged children, many of who don’t know when their next meal will be and don’t always have someone to watch them during the day at home. There are 15 Play SAFE sites in New Brunswick to support around 2,000 children, ranging in age from 6 to 12. UMC participants help support four of these sites – three schools and a park. For the kids who attend these camps, Play SAFE is their summer and is what they look forward to.
An average day at Play SAFE consists of different scheduled activities, including art, reading, board games, movies, dance, and playing outside. The kids get so much enjoyment out of these activities. Play SAFE also provides its campers with lunch and a snack. These lunches may be the only meal the children eat all day, and the snack they receive may be their breakfast for the next morning. In addition to these essentials, Play SAFE takes the children on field trips, such as to the pool. They really look forward to these all summer.
The kids at Play SAFE love all of us from UMC. We put smiles on their faces, and they look forward to seeing us everyday. While there, I worked with 6 and 7-year-old girls. The girls looked up to me as a role model and saw me as their friend. It was such an amazing experience to go to work everyday and to make their days brighter. The other UMC participants had very similar experiences; their kids looked up to them as well.
During my time at Play SAFE, I saw the difference I can make in children’s lives. It gives me an idea of what I want out of my future career working with children. Working at Play SAFE has been an amazing experience; it has taught me what I want to strive for every day in the future.