It All Started with Chinese Chess ...

It All Started with Chinese Chess ...

We are incredibly grateful for our fun-loving and dedicated volunteers. As part of National Volunteer Appreciation Week, we wanted to take a moment to thank our volunteers, who collectively invest more than 20,000 hours each year in the lives of the children and families throughout our community. Thank you for everything you do – we couldn’t do it without you!

Wen Hsin began volunteering with Cornerstones of Care in August 2016. And more recently, Wen has become a weekly staple, and well-loved volunteer at the Cornerstones of Care – Spofford Campus. Wen, who was born in Taiwan, ties her passion for Asian culture to bringing unique and educational experiences for the children in our residential treatment program.  Wen has been teaching Chinese culture and language for many years. When her two daughters were younger, she used games and crafts to teach them the basics.  Now, that her daughters are in college she enjoys being able to spend an hour each week sharing what she knows with other children.

Pairing Personal Interests to Volunteering

When asked how she began melding her passion for Chinese culture to volunteering, Wen said, “One week another volunteer brought a fun activity in, so I thought ‘well why can’t I do that? I have fun activities at home.’” At about the same time, a child requested that Wen bring some Chinese games to play. So, in the following weeks Wen brought in Chinese Chess since many of the kids had already enjoyed playing Chinese checkers. “While playing the game, I showed them the characters and the meaning of the characters. It is very rewarding when they can recognize the characters and play the game progressively smoothly. It’s been fun,” says Wen.

Wen has also brought in worksheets that show a new Chinese character paired with a corresponding image. These worksheets are created specifically to help with learning another language. Together, she and the kids then practice tracing the character using a calligraphy pen that Wen brings in especially for this activity. “The last few weeks I bring a new sheet that shows a new Chinese character with an image…today they asked me to bring some animals next week – like lions and tigers. I will see what I can do next week,” says Wen. More recently, Wen has introduced origami to the group.

Vicky, the Community Relations Manager at Cornerstones of Care says, “It was probably about three weeks in when I realized that Wen had brought her own Chinese Chess game, and I remember thinking that it was interesting, but what really brought a smile to my face was that the table was full of kids interested in the game and what she was teaching them. Her table has grown and is full of kids each week that are absolutely enthralled about learning a new culture. It just brings a smile to my face.”

When Wen isn’t volunteering at Cornerstones of Care, she can be found teaching at Park University where she teaches Computer Science, or volunteering at The Chinese School of Greater Kansas City.

Creating a Successful Experience

We always strive to connect volunteers to an area that matches their own personal interests to our volunteer-related needs.  “We really try to engage our volunteers in something that utilizes their own skills. Not only is it good for the kids, but it’s good for the volunteers too. It creates a more successful volunteer experience that way,” says Vicky.

When you’re reaching out about new volunteer opportunities, please make sure to let the volunteer team know if you have any special skillsets or interests. You never know if your hobby in photography, running, hiking or even language could become a new volunteer activity at one of our locations.

Learn More about Volunteering