Jane Maunsell is a University of Chicago Lab School Student, a volunteer at The Living Room Cafe, and our November Volunteer of the Month. Congratulations, Jane! We asked her a few questions about her experience at Inspiration Corporation:
How did you hear about Inspiration Corporation?
I’m a student at the University of Chicago Lab School, where there’s a community service requirement. Hannah Evans, the program coordinator, recommended The Living Room Cafe.
What is the most enjoyable part of volunteering for you?
I love the people here. Everyone is welcoming and really interesting to talk to. In particular, it’s been wonderful getting to know the staff and regular volunteers, who are all so dedicated to the Living Room Cafe — quick shout-‐out to Royal, David, Gwen, Alice and Charice for being the friendliest, most hardworking people I know.
Why do you volunteer?
I probably wouldn’t have volunteered if left to my own devices. I didn’t really see the point: how much impact could one high school student have? So I’m very grateful to Ms. Evans for patiently prodding me into volunteering, even if my individual contribution isn’t much, I get to be part of something larger that really does make a difference in the community.
Describe one of the most interesting experiences you’ve had as a volunteer.
For a school project, I made a short film about The Living Room Cafe. One of the interview questions I asked was, “What’s important to you?” Across the board, everyone — staff, volunteers, guests — said either family or helping others. It drove home something I’d already observed; this is a community of people with common values who care about each other.
What are your hobbies, besides volunteering?
I play the tenor saxophone in my school’s jazz band, and I like to read. I also rock climb when I have the time.
What have you learned from your volunteer experience?
I’ve gotten pretty good at filleting chicken breasts, for one thing. Moreover, I’ve come to understand that everyone has an important story to tell; it’s just that some voices aren’t heard. That’s why the Living Room Cafe is so important. It’s a place where people can get the help they need and the respect they deserve