Once a week Gloria Hunt wears tambourine bracelets, sings thematic songs, collects toys in a whale patterned fabric basket, and stamps goodbye hearts onto growing hands. For the last six years, Gloria has been volunteering at Play to Learn Pierce County at Puyallup Public Library.
“When kids come through the door after they’ve been here before and they see me – they’re just all grins because they know what’s coming. How can you not want that?”
Six years ago Gloria was introduced to the Children’s Museum of Tacoma by a friend and former board member who invited her to attend the Right to Play Gala. Inspired by Greentrike’s mission, she started volunteering at Play to Learn almost immediately.
“I got the chance to understand what the mission was and what [Greentrike] was really trying to accomplish and I thought, I can really do something here.”
During Play to Learn, caregivers and young children are invited to play with a variety of toys, engage in a full group circle time, create art, sing, dance, and read. Gloria assists with it all — setting up play stations, checking in participants, showing children dance moves, answering questions, and above all, being present.
She feels appreciated and loved when she volunteers and says it’s gratifying to see something simple in concept be so effective. Whether she interacts with grandparents who attend Play to Learn to bond with their grandchild, listens to caregivers express their gratitude, or watches as children develop their confidence, she sees the positive affect the program has on children and caregivers alike.
“It’s really affected my view of parenting. Watching the parents, the first time they come in, they kind of hover over their little darling. As the kid adventures out and starts dealing with other kids, you can just see the parents develop confidence that their child can handle relationships, that they can negotiate.”
Her favorite part of every Play to Learn session is circle time because the children who have been before help the younger children know how to participate. Plus, the dances are pretty fun.
“I’ll probably have an ice pack on somewhere when I get home. It is worth it.”
Although Gloria has been at it for six years, she has no plans to slow down. After a nearly 40-year career at Weyerhaeuser and without many children in her life, volunteering at Play to Learn has become somewhat of a staple.
“It’s good for me because it makes me feel like I’m contributing to the community.”
Check out our current volunteer opportunities and fill out a volunteer application form here!