Blythe with her husband at our Annual Recognition Event
Over the first year of her volunteering with us, you could say Blythe Raucci became one of Inspiring Minds’ biggest advocates. Though Blythe initially approached us to volunteer because of internship requirements she needed to fulfill to graduate (and ended up giving over 200 hours of her time to the students and staff at Carl Lauro Elementary), you can now find her regularly considering ways to carry out our mission, and was honored this past spring as the 2015 Outstanding College Volunteer.
You may be picturing a typical college student based on that description, but Blythe is anything but: at 27 she is a mother and wife, but also rattles off interests in organic lifestyles, music festivals, and nature and speaks powerfully about service to others. After completing her internship with us, Blythe graduated from URI with honors this past May and is now employed with the Trudeau Center, continuing her passion of genuinely understanding and helping the people she meets.
When Blythe talks about her experience volunteering, it’s impossible to overlook the rewards she lists at every opportunity that she feels accompany working with our public school students. She emphatically notes that she finds the most fulfilling part of it all to be working with the often-overlooked, “difficult” children.
“These kids have more life experiences than the majority of the adults I interact with,” she says. “They know more about themselves than they are able to articulate, and that’s incredibly frustrating for them.” That’s why Blythe, under guidance from her partner-teachers and literacy coaches, began working with students who struggled with learning in a traditional classroom setting. Thinking of creative, alternative ways to approach reading and math lessons, as well as appropriate social and emotional expression, came naturally to her.
“If we have one child who comes to school and has worn the same shoes that you can see are hurting his feet and are too small for five months, comes in hungry every morning, and he’s behind academically – these are red flags. And it’s not, “This child is difficult.” It’s – “What else can we do?’”
When asked about her philosophy on volunteering, Blythe immediately and firmly answered “To do it!” While we could just leave it there, she added “We need to make things as good as we can for as many people as we can, because that’s how our world gets better.”
We are often awe-struck by the wisdom that comes out of our volunteers when we speak to them, Blythe being no exception. You might find her in our office this fall, trying out something that’s new to her – working with our high-schoolers in the Tech Center! We are incredibly thankful to have such a strong, thoughtful woman amongst our volunteers and we hope you can join us in thanking her for pouring her heart into our community.