I went to school for seven years to become a physical therapist. I had always wanted to build a career that allowed me to spend my days “helping people.” Once grad school was completed and board exams were passed, I moved to Arlington. After finding a job as a physical therapist and settling into my apartment with my college roommate, I started to embrace the community of Arlington. Through the numerous outdoor activities, races, farmer’s markets and happy hours, I was fortunate to meet a lot of great people and started to feel at home. But once the “newness” wore off, I found that something was missing. I started to look for volunteer opportunities in Arlington and ran across Doorways for Women and Families on a community website.
After attending training, I knew that this was the right organization to dedicate my time to. Everyone I encountered was positive and truly believed in the causes they were supporting. What separates Doorways from other organizations is that they provide not just “shelter” but an entire experience to help clients rebuild their lives. I was amazed that Doorways can offer families parenting support, mental health services for children, financial counseling and court advocacy services. Families are not only given an opportunity to get back on their feet, but they are provided with the tools to make it happen themselves.
After volunteering with Doorways for over a year, I have seen many families successfully complete the program. Parents begin careers, children excel in school and families are brought closer together. I even had the opportunity to meet a family from a small town that I also had family in, teaching me that anyone can be a victim of homelessness. Doorways has taught me how to communicate with people from different backgrounds and be empathetic towards those in their most difficult times. Doorways reminds me to stay grounded and appreciate the hard work that all community service organizations provide to bring the community together. Doorways make me proud to be an Arlington resident. Volunteering at Doorways truly allows me to spend my days “helping people.”
—Jen Little, Doorways Volunteer since 2010