We recently announced the winners of our annual Au Pair in America Community Service Award contest, and we’d like to highlight the volunteer efforts of one of our Brazilian au pairs, Luisa, who lives with her host family in Connecticut. A life-long sports lover, Luisa bonded quickly with her host mother over their shared interest in sports, and before long, Luisa began to volunteer with her host mom, who coached track and field for the Special Olympics.
Devoting her time every week as a basketball coach for the Special Olympics, Luisa found a fulfilling and meaningful way to give back to her community, make new friends, and connect with her host family. Read on to learn more about her experiences!
“My first day as a volunteer was very nice; I met the athletes and other volunteers. But after a few practices, I was amazed to see how the group start being a real group, playing with each other. When they recognized me, saying things like “Hey Luisa, how are you?,” this was the point when I thought, “good, they recognized me, they want to talk to me, they see me like a friend,” It was definitely very nice.
I also went to the Penguin Plunge with my host mom. They do the Plunge in Connecticut to raise money for the Special Olympics. A lot of people donate money, and we celebrate by jumping in a lake with very cold water! This was my first time in such freezing water. I should mention I am from Brazil; I really discovered winter and cold water here!
Another special moment that I remember was the tournament day when we were together waiting for our medals. We got first, second and third places with the skills group, and our team also got bronze medal in an amazing game!
Here in the USA, it is nice to be able to enjoy the American life and culture with sports, both watching them on TV and going to the games, and because of the volunteer job I started, I watch even more so I can talk with the athletes and we can figure out better things for our training. Being a volunteer makes me think a lot about how grateful I am for simple things that I am able to do, physically and emotionally. This is a gift! But helping the participants, seeing how they develop themselves and especially the way they improve themselves with confidence and friendship, this was the best part.”
For more stories about au pairs getting involved and giving back to their local communities, visit our Community Service Award winners page.