Bill Bravener Loves Working With Kids
“They are so accepting of each other, no matter the developmental ability or ethnicity.”
What made you decide to become a volunteer?
I saw a notice in the newspaper for “volunteers needed” and I had recently started semi-retirement.
Describe the organization where you volunteer and they work they do.
Penfield Children’s Center, a non-profit organization funded by United Way and other funders, has been helping children ages 3 months to 6 years reach their full potential through education, therapy services and family programs for over 45 years. Over 90 percent of the children come from homes below the US poverty level. They serve both typical kids and children with special needs, providing Physical Therapy, Occupational Therapy and Speech Therapy. Penfield has a Behavioral Clinic, and Outpatient Therapy Clinics, and a Special Care Nursery staffed by RN’s and CNA’s. Penfield also has an accredited Day Care for children up to age 6.
What kind of help do you provide?
I interact one to one with the children, assist the teachers in class activities, and chaperone on field trips.
How long have you volunteered there?
I have volunteered in classrooms of two- and three-year-old children for three years.
What surprised you the most about volunteering?
That I receive more benefits from volunteering than I provide.
When you think about your paid jobs, how is a volunteering different or the same?
My career has been as a public school music teacher and a church music director. This is similar in that I continue to have the opportunity to work with children – which I love.
What new things have you learned through this volunteer opportunity?
The children are so accepting of each other, no matter the developmental ability or ethnicity. They are good reminders to all of us that we are in this together, and to make the most out of life, and to celebrate our diversity.
My experience at Penfields reminds me that the more we help kids get off to a good start, especially kids with special challenges, the better our world will be.
Has it changed your view of this community in any way?
Penfield Children’s Center has made me more aware of the needs in our community and the many wonderful resources that are available for families.
Has volunteering had benefits for you?
In addition to enjoying my time with the children, I like interacting with the staff and developing friendships- it’s been a very positive experience.
What are you proudest of accomplishing in your work as a volunteer?
I feel good about being a positive male role model in the children’s lives.
Would you recommend volunteering to others? If so, what would you tell them is the benefit they’d get?
I recommend it because you will get far more than you give. Volunteering is a great use of your time. It makes you feel engaged in your community, that you are making a difference.
How would you suggest someone begin if they want to volunteer?
She can help you get started with the children or help by volunteering at Wisconsin State Fair, Summerfest at the Penfield’s booth or with other outreach! There is always a need for volunteers. There are so many different volunteer opportunities at Penfield.
To find additional volunteer opportunities in our community, go to www.volunteermilwaukee.org, a service of the Nonprofit Center of Milwaukee.