Announcing our Volunteer of the Year
Jode, on why she volunteers:
“While working as the Vocational Program Assistant at The Forbush School in Glyndon, I was invited to the Pathfinders For Autism National Aquarium Night. I attended because I wanted to learn more about who these people were and what they were doing for the community.
From there, I contacted Rebecca and Trish and we had a meeting about allowing my students to “work” at Pathfinders for Autism practicing their office skills, computer skills, and social skills. They were very open and flexible with the idea and I was very grateful for the opportunity. We had a brilliant student named Quinn (I’m sure that sounds familiar) and he was especially good at data entry, so I thought it would be great if Quinn could use a skill that he was really great at to become employed. Several years later, Quinn was hired by Pathfinders…..well, you know the rest of that story!”
A profound conversation I had with Trish during that time was about her son, his aging, and how she never saw him as “employable”. I remember telling her that everyone is employable, we just have to find what they love to do. Seeing photos of Eric today engaging in Walking Discovery and Itineris always brings me back to that conversation with Trish.
So, although I began a professional relationship with the folks at Pathfinders, I would like to think over the years, they have also become my friends. Every time I show up at an event, I am always welcomed with open arms from everyone. When I get the opportunity to see families enjoying their time together (knowing how rare it may be for some families to do that), it warms my heart. It never feels like “volunteering” or “working”, it’s just always a super fun time. Pathfinders For Autism has invited me to volunteer at so many fun events like the Night Out at the National Aquarium, Run Wild for Autism at the Maryland Zoo, Ladew Gardens, the Science Center, and the Fashion Shows, but they have always invited me as a “guest” to other wonderful events like the Leadership Conferences (where some photo bombs did occur), sailing with the Downtown Sailing Center, and a reception that they held in downtown Baltimore that I was able to share with my mother on her birthday.
Best PFA memories . . . loosing the remote control shark, but still being asked to volunteer again; Surfers Healing because what’s better than volunteering on a beach?, seeing everyone’s cheery faces at 6:30am at Run Wild for Autism, and the famous José cake story!!!”
– Jode Zito
Pathfinders for Autism is grateful for all of our incredible volunteers and the work they make possible. We are privileged to count people like Jode among our PFA “family” and are excited to honor her years of hard work improving the lives of people with autism!
Last year alone, our volunteers contributed nearly 1,000 hours of their time. Join us in saying thank you to volunteers like Jode by making a donation in her honor.