It’s Tuesday afternoon at the Teen Center. Staff members are in the great room, meeting with clients and connecting them to services. Outside, a few youth kneel beside a raised flower bed planting herbs in the small courtyard. And at the far end of the room, June’s Volunteer of the Month—Ahmad—is standing behind an electric keyboard with a client, walking them through the chords of Adele’s “To Make You Feel My Love.”
Preble Street cherishes all its volunteers—more than 50 individuals join us every day, giving their time and energy and asking for nothing in return. Some people prepare delicious food; others are wizards at data entry and filing. Ahmad gives the Teen Center the gift of music.
Every Tuesday, Ahmad brings his keyboard to the Teen Center to teach youth how to play the piano. He first started volunteering at the Preble Street Teen Center through a partnership with the Maine Academy of Modern Music, where Ahmad was a student. But to say Ahmad’s gift is simply that of music instruction would fall vastly short of his widely sweeping positive impact on the lives of staff and clients alike who know him, learn from him, and play music with him.
“One of his greatest gifts that he brings to the Teen Center is his ability to connect with everyone,” says Jordan, a caseworker at the Teen Center. “He is an incredible listener, provides enormous amounts of positive encouragement, and helps show our clients they are capable of so much.”
Ahmad and Teen Center staff dress the part at the annual client Halloween party.
Kiersten, Teen Services Supervisor and one of Ahmad’s many nominators for Volunteer of the Month, had this to say: “Above all things, Ahmad, when interacting with staff, clients, volunteers, or community members, is quietly and beatifically present in every interaction, every moment. He is effortlessly empathetic. He encourages youth to bring him music they like, and he takes their lead in instruction and choosing songs.”
Staff members remember fondly the holiday concerts Ahmad helps organize, where youth are able to showcase their budding musical abilities to an enthusiastic audience. These concerts “have not only empowered youth and given them a venue to share their very proudly earned new talents, but have brought different programs together as staff come to enjoy the show,” says a Teen Center team member. The joy expressed in these musical gatherings lifts up clients and staff alike, thanks to the tireless effort of one volunteer.
While Ahmad’s volunteering centers around music, he also brings unending patience, incredible positivity, and quiet compassion. Thank you, Ahmad, for bringing your light, your enthusiasm, and your beautiful gift of music to the Preble Street Teen Center.