For February, My Place Teen Center honors Lori Whitlock for the Volunteer Spotlight.

Q: Why do you volunteer at My Place Teen Center?

A: Every child deserves to feel safe, be cared for, be encouraged to pursue their dreams, be appreciated for who they are as a person, not be bullied, be respected, be held accountable for their actions and behaviors, and to be able to enjoy every moment of this most precious and vulnerable time in their lives. My Place Teen Center fills all of these needs and more.

These kids matter. I volunteer to help staff and our board fulfill our commitment to these kids and demonstrate to each and every one of them that they matter.

Q: What makes you the most happy?

A: A child’s smile. There is nothing better.

Q: What surprised you the most about MPTC?

A: My surprise – perhaps shock is a better term – was how severe the need was and still is to provide even basic needs like warmth and comfort and a hot meal in the evening. I cried all the way home the first night I volunteered. The need is still there. Staff and volunteers and continued generous financial support from community partners and friends are critical to meeting the need.

Q: What would you tell your younger self?

A: I would tell myself to speak up and not let anyone hurt me. I would tell myself wake up, girl, and show an infinite amount of respect and admiration for my mother’s strength and Herculean efforts. She kept five children healthy and warm and loved, when my dad was overseas and on active duty while serving in the Marine Corps, and then later, when he was sick. All while working; sometimes 16-hour days. I never fully appreciated just how much until I was older.

Q: Final thoughts about My Place Teen Center?

A: More than ever, with single parents or even two parents struggling to care for their children, the working poor, youth at risk, and funding cuts to social services, MPTC services are necessary. Our numbers are growing. We made the commitment and we must honor it. These kids rely on us.

Lori Whitlock

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