Article and Media by Xavier-Thomas Mendoza
Stories of volunteering are a dime a dozen. Finding programs that offer volunteers the experience to help the less fortunate can be easily searched on any search engine. Their stories are spread all over the web. But, unlike most of these stories, the chapters of Heather Lang’s volunteering book continues.
Lang started her volunteering experience six years ago. Her first placement was as a volunteer teacher at Cangumbang Elementary. Lang’s profession as a teacher was what lead her to the position.
“I love the kids and what you get out of it,” she said. “The school didn’t have enough teachers. So, to see a class of 60, from grades three to six in one classroom, it was important to help. The more volunteer teachers, the easier it was, for the school, to split the grades into their own classes.”
Lang said she felt she made a difference with her placement.
“Being there, I was able to take the younger students, so that the other teachers can focus on the other students,” she said. “As a teacher, I know it’s nearly impossible to properly teach four different grade levels of children.”
Since then, Lang has come back to volunteer for Volunteer for the Visayans five times.
“I feel like we’re making a difference, like the VFV motto says,” she said. “The last four times I came, I’ve decided to do two projects: teaching in the morning and helping with the Cangumbang center’s nutrition in the afternoon.”
Lang volunteers for at least two weeks every time she visits.
“One of my favorite memories was, on the last day when I was going home on the motor cab, all the kids were running behind the cab, trying to run as long and as far as possible to wave good bye.”
Lang is not only a long time volunteer, but also a parent sponsor to four children in Cangumbang.
“I used to teach one of my sponsored children in grade three. I’ve personally seen them grow up with my visits.”
With her sixth visit, Lang was accompanied by her husband and her 13 month old son. She said she hopes these early experiences will help be positive for her son.
“I just hope this will help Danny see how privileged we are, in our lives, as well as for him to connect with his rules, considering he is half filipino,” Lang said. “I hope this will influence him to volunteer his own time later on because you can give money, but your time is more valuable than any amount you give.”
She said she would try to continue her visits every year and to continue to show her son the impact they could have and for him to hopefully volunteer as he grows older.
Lang said, she recommends the experience of volunteering to anyone.
“I took a few years thinking about volunteering. Then I decided to take the plunge, completely on my own, without anyone here,” she said. “Don’t put off volunteering. Don’t do it next year, you have to do it now. Traveling to organization, you get to meet new people in the same shoes as you, so you won’t ever be alone.”