When Club kids, parents, and visitors walk through the doors of Kiwanis Boys & Girls Clubs, they’re greeted by Paulette Anderson, the high-spirited, caring bus driver/membership clerk. She provides clerical support, maintains membership files, and transports Club kids.
She’s held this position since 2017 and views her responsibilities as more than a job. It’s an experience. “It’s the relationships and connections with the kids,” says Anderson. “It’s where they feel safe, learn new things and get encouragement.”
Club programs contribute to those successes through academic enrichment, sports, art, and leadership programs. Volunteers provide “something extra” by teaching quilting, knitting, cooking, and other crafts.
Seeing their reaction to learning sparked Anderson to share her gift of language by volunteering to teach Club kids Spanish and an 8-week course in American Sign Language (ASL). The self-described linguist is passionate about learning; she speaks conversational Spanish and is fluent in ASL. “I was amazed they learned so quickly,” Anderson says.
“Language has a way of bringing people together. You learn to understand, communicate, accept differences and experience new cultures and embrace our differences,” Anderson states.
Likewise, she believes sign language is similar to learning a new language. ASL allows you to develop an appreciation for the deaf culture.
She hopes more youth will take an interest in learning ASL and that schools will incorporate it into their curriculum. “It would enhance the school experience for hearing-impaired students seeking to communicate with their peers,” Anderson says.