During April, traditionally Volunteer Appreciation Month, we want to especially acknowledge those who have given their time and heart volunteering and helping others. One parent, Ms. Zulma Guzman, has been proactive to find ways to help her fellow community members in this unprecedented time. Ms. Guzman is a mother of four children ages 8, 11, 14, and 20. When her children first started going to school in the School District of Philadelphia, they were not able to speak English well. Because of the language barrier, Ms. Guzman began to look for resources that could help her and her children acclimate to their schools and progress in their learning. As she learned about resources that could help her children, she saw other families and parents who would also benefit from this knowledge. She felt a desire to share all of these resources to help support other families in Philadelphia. Ms. Guzman says that the District has provided her with more knowledge through monthly workshops and interpretation services — these have been things that Ms. Guzman has been able to share with other parents as well.
Ms. Guzman has enjoyed volunteering and being involved in school communities for the past 5 years. During this time, she has developed relationships with many different families at her children’s schools. In the past couple of weeks, even while schools were closed, Ms. Guzman continued to keep in contact with various families and neighbors who needed help accessing resources. She has continued to proactively volunteer throughout the past couple of weeks to help these families get the help that they need. Ms. Guzman has been picking up learning guides that the district made available for students, breakfast, and lunches and dropping off the learning guides and meals at students’ homes. She has even gone so far as to drive one parent who does not have the means of transportation to go pick up food, milk, diapers, and wipes. Ms. Guzman says: “I see them as my brothers and sisters, not just as neighbors.” Ms. Guzman cares about providing not only material needs but also providing emotional, mental, and spiritual support. She says, “Families need a lot of support at this time–not just physically but mentally, emotionally, and spiritually, and I want to be there for them in all of those ways.” Because of the ways that she has developed relationships with these families, Ms. Guzman cares about how they are doing overall as well.
Ms. Guzman has been taking the necessary safety precautions as she volunteers, so that she can stay safe and keep others healthy as well. Even though this has been an unplanned and sometimes difficult time for many, she says, “I think it’s important to say that everything is going to pass, and I believe that we can trust in God.” She wants to be a source of hope to others and wishes to uplift families with her volunteering services. Ms. Guzman’s desire to help others and to be an active volunteer at this time of need is evident, and we celebrate her volunteering efforts this month!