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The sound of laughter radiates from the Special Journeys room at Trinity Church. Inside, kids play games, watch TV, or simply talk with one another. This would not be possible without the assistance of the volunteers who staff the room.

Minnesota Virtual Academy (MNVA) senior Evelyn Le is one of the volunteers in the Special Journeys room. When she was in traditional brick-and-mortar school, she missed out on a lot of opportunities. However, thanks to online learning Evelyn now has time to work with causes that matter to her.

“Before, instead of being able to volunteer I was stuck at home doing work even after school would end,” Evelyn said.

Now at MNVA, she can complete her work on her own schedule and find the time to work for important causes in her community. This includes her time with the Special Journeys room, where she has been volunteering for the past three years.

The Special Journeys room is designed for children who have special needs. Here, the children are paired with a volunteer ‘buddy’ who interacts and play games with them. Evelyn is one of several volunteers who works with the children in this space.

Evelyn’s involvement with Special Journeys comes with a personal connection. “It is especially important to me to be involved with this cause because of one of my sisters, Scarlet,” Evelyn said. Scarlet was born with the rare genetic disorder Smith-Magenis Syndrome.

Scarlet began visiting the Special Journeys room and later introduced Evelyn to this special place. What really got Evelyn interested in volunteering was seeing the excitement on her sister’s face and how welcome Scarlet felt with this group.

“Knowing that my little sister has somewhere outside of the comfort of our own home where she is loved and accepted truly gives me hope and warms my heart,” Evelyn said.

Seeing the acceptance that Scarlet received here, Evelyn wanted to help other children get the same feeling.

Not only has Evelyn gained satisfaction in seeing the results amongst the children, she has also discovered her passion in life. After graduating from MNVA she plans to pursue a career in special education to continue to make an impact on the lives of others and encourage them to give back.

“It doesn’t matter how old you are or how much experience you have in the field; it just takes a compassionate heart that is willing to help out and volunteer,” she said.

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