The Summer Volunteer

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Ping! The elevator doors opened on Floor Nine, and I was in another world. Leaving the chaos of panicking patients and bustling doctors in the floors below, I found myself walking down a deserted hallway.This was my first day volunteering at the Children’s Psychiatric Department in Elmhurst Hospital. I was to tutor children in the After School Program, which was normally only open to college students. However, the Director of Volunteer Services noted my interest in psychology and interacting with patients and accepted me. Tutoring was something I had experience with and had enjoyed in the past, but this was going to be different. As I knocked on the door, doubts swirled through my head. However, I was jolted awake when Ms. Marisol came out. She led me into a vibrant room filled with cabinets, books, games, and tables. At one of those tables was a tiny boy, quietly coloring. This was Quinn, a seven year old with shiny blond hair and vivacious blue eyes.I was told that Quinn had Attention Deficit Disorder, but that he was a delightful child. Apprehensively, I introduced myself; he looked up, stared for a moment, and then went back to coloring. Getting Quinn to talk was not going to be easy. I thought by playing a game with him, he might open up to me. As I was getting Connect Four, Quinn ran into the hallway, to his room, and then slammed the door shut.Great, I thought; I had lost him already. I knocked and asked him to come out, but there was no answer. I hoped the rest of the summer would not be like this. As I desperately thought of something to say, an attendant came by and told me it was hopeless. However, determined not to fail, I stood there pleading with Quinn for twenty minutes. I told him I was his friend and that I was not leaving. But still, he did not come out. When I made it clear to him that I would be here until eight if I had to, I heard shuffling footsteps get closer. Finally, after all my efforts, the door unlocked, and Quinn came out.”Do you know how to play Sorry?” he asked. “If you do your work, then yes, I do,” I laughed. We walked back to the playroom, and spent the rest of the time doing schoolwork, playing, and talking. When it was time to leave, I found myself wanting to stay longer and was glad when Quinn asked if I was coming back tomorrow. Of course I said yes, and as I was riding down the elevator, I realized that this was not going to be as difficult as I had thought it would be. Ping! As the elevator doors opened and the rush of people became present once more, I knew I was going to enjoy coming to the hospital and tutoring for the rest of the summer – and I did.

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