Volunteer Spotlight – Samantha Schwartz

Volunteer Spotlight - Samantha Schwartz

Samantha is spending her summer as an intern with OneFamily courtesy of the Onward Israel program, which matches North American students with internships around Israel. Within a few short weeks, she succeeded in building lasting relationships with families from OneFamily and particularly the children in those families.

Samantha, who lives in Sharon, Mass. and recently graduated from the University of Connecticut with a degree in education, was looking for hands on experience with children from challenging backgrounds. OneFamily was a natural fit for her interests.

During her time at OneFamily, Samantha works with three families, supporting them in their day-to-day lives. Two of the families need help with their small children. With the third family, Samantha works directly with a young woman her own age who was severely injured in a terrorist attack.

Although Samantha shares a name with another Schwartz family – the family of Ezra Schwartz, who was killed in a shooting attack during his gap year in Israel at the age of 18 – she is not related. She knew of Ezra growing up in the same town, however.

Samantha said she has learned a great deal about the plight of terror victims by seeing the challenges faced by the families she helps and by spending time listening to what they have to tell her and learning about their stories.

“One thing that has been really eye opening for me is how you just don’t know what someone has been through by looking at them, or even when you first meet them,” she said. “They don’t necessarily have scars that you can see, but that does not mean that they are not badly scarred on the inside.”

The other lesson she had was the practice with child care, which builds on child management courses she took in college as part of her education degree. The experience has been exactly along the lines she plans to follow in her Master’s program.

“I like to work with kids who are either struggling or from a difficult background,” she said. “With them, there is a challenge every day but you really feel like you are making a difference in their lives and the lives of their families.”

She also said the experience has had a powerful effect on her.

“I’m thankful for the opportunity to be working at OneFamily this summer and to get to know the amazing families I work with every day.”

We are certain the appreciation is mutual.

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