Volunteer Spotlight: Annette Bouw

How long have you been volunteering with WTAP?14247690_10209124343298738_128295454_o
I have been volunteering with WTAP for almost 4 years now.
Tell me about some of the people you’ve met while working with WTAP?

I have met wonderful community volunteers from all walks of life, backgrounds and from all ages. Our Youngestvolunteer has been Abby Anhalt who has volunteered multiple times with her mother Adina, and some of our seniorvolunteers have been the “Golden Girls” Laura, Connie and Denise who showed me the ins and outs of how we sort, organize and pack items for our refugee families when I first began. At that point they had been activelyvolunteering weekly for about 5 years. That is dedication!

Why do you choose to donate your time to WTAP?
As the daughter of a refugee, my Dad George who came to the United States through the IRC in 1950, I know the plight of the refugee families from within my own family and understand the hardships all too well. I was fortunate enough to come into this world when my father was in solid financial standing but he shared many stories over the years, just how hard the beginning was. There was no WTAP back then, and my father could only rely on himself and his few family members. I want this generation of refugees to know someone else is out there to help them, and they do not have to do it all alone. I want them to have more than just the mattress on the floor that my father had when he first came. WTAP allows me to help furnish their near empty apartments so that they can become their homes, filled with what they need to be able to comfortably sit, study, eat and enjoy their home life as we all do.Describe an experience you had while volunteering that made you realize you were making a difference.

One time, on a delivery I learned that a 5 year old child was not attending school, and that the parents were told he did not need to go until the fall, and yet, this was only January. I explained that school was required at that age and that there must have been a misunderstanding. I then assisted the family with phone calls during the week and the child began school. The parents were very happy that indeed their child could start learning and not have to wait.

What do you do when you aren’t volunteering?
I recently finished my M. S. In Professional Counseling, and will soon commence my job search. I love to travel, spend time with family and friends and I love to cook, bake and entertain. I also mentor International Students at Scottsdale Community College.

What secret powers or talents do you have?

I have the gift of learning languages and can speak Polish, Ukrainian, French, Spanish, Italian, and Dutch in varying degrees as well as being able to understand some Russian. This is a blessing when I travel and has come in handy with some of our refugee families.

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