A Passion for Volunteering: Will Falb

My name is Will Falb and I am junior at Dover-Sherborn High School. I play for the Varsity Ice Hockey team at my school and I am actively involved in several clubs such as SADD (Students Against Destructive Decisions), MARC (Massachusetts Aggression Reduction Center - a student advocated club standing against and resisting social exclusion and bullying), and National Honor Society. 

My mother suggested that I apply to the Youth in Philanthropy program after learning about it in our local newspaper. I was so glad that I took her advice. While I had heard the term philanthropy before, I never really knew or understood what it actually meant. By the conclusion of the program, I felt that I had a comprehensive understanding of the meaning of philanthropy.

My experience in YIP was unparalleled. Through everything I was taught by our YIP Instructor and through the collaboration with my peers from surrounding towns and schools, I developed superlative skills and expertise in the philanthropy world that I will always have. Through the Youth in Philanthropy program I became acutely aware and knowledgeable about the needs in our community, which I learned extend far beyond homelessness and food insecurity. One skill that I learned from YIP that has greatly helped me in my volunteer experience is the skill to communicate with people that I have never met before. In my daily life, whether it be at home, at sports, or at school, I am always talking to and interacting with people that I have known for a long time. Coming into my YIP program was a little overwhelming at first with all of the unfamiliar faces. But starting at my first YIP meeting, I learned how to work with, and at times be a leader to, new faces.

Youth in Philanthropy sparked my sincere interest in volunteering because it showed me how enjoyable volunteering can be, yet how big of an impact it has in our community. Although I have all of my community service requisites completed, I continue to volunteer in my free time because even helping out in small ways can have a big impact on people’s lives. Waypoint Adventure is a program that I have a special connection to and volunteer with most often. Waypoint Adventure is a non-profit that lets individuals with disabilities experience life’s full potential through adventurous programs outdoors. I was introduced to Waypoint Adventure through YIP and that is what got me so passionate about the program. I would like to thank YIP for introducing me to Waypoint and being responsible for my yearning to volunteer with them. 

After carefully scrutinizing several non-profit organizations in our community, my YIP team selected Waypoint as one of the two programs that we granted $5,000 to. With this grant, we helped fund activities that Waypoint would go on and helped to cover the cost of an off terrain wheelchair, specifically the TrailRider Black Diamond wheelchair, which I actually got to see and use when I went on a hike with Waypoint Adventures a few days ago. It was so amazing to see the wheelchair in use to help people living with disabilities hike and climb over rocks and obstacles in the woods. It warmed my heart realizing that it was my YIP team that helped this program grow and fund this wheelchair that opened up so many new opportunities for the disabled. 

One thing I hear each time I go out with Waypoint, whether it be rock climbing, hiking, kayaking, or completing a ropes course, is a participant saying that they pushed their limits and did what they didn’t believe they could do. This is my favorite part each time I go out on a program with Waypoint Adventure. A lot of the times people with disabilities, whether cognitive or physical, are limited to the activities they can do outdoors, but Waypoint Adventure makes it possible for anyone to do the impossible. 

I volunteered for the first time this past week with a group from Perkins School for the Blind. It was my first time working with participants who were visually impaired, but I was very much at ease in communicating and connecting with them. Before the participants arrived, I quickly learned how to be a walking guide to those walking without a stick, and I was very comfortable physically guiding and speaking to those that needed help walking to places.

Before volunteering with Waypoint, I never would have expected that someone who has restricted mobility in a wheelchair could climb to the top of a rock-climbing wall. That would probably have to be one of my favorite experiences at Waypoint; when I witnessed a man named John (whose name has been changed) climb to the top of the wall by himself. The look on his face when he realized he reached the top by himself while in a wheelchair was like no other. I’ll never forget the moment after helping to lower him down from the wall when I gave him a high five and congratulated him for his accomplishment and ability to do something so amazing, which of itself is an accomplishment for those with full mobility.