New experiences can be intimidating, but with an Ally by your side, you will always be all right. This comforting concept is one the Allies in Community group hopes will ring true through its latest workshop. After several months of participating in the program, Allies cohort member and Coppell Volunteer Tara John is sure it will.
The latest assignment is to take an Ally to a place you've never been, she said.
The idea is that even if you are uncomfortable, if you have an Ally with you, you will be okay.
It's an excellent way to measure the success of the fledgling program, which was created through the City of Coppell to form partnerships between people from all cultures and walks of life as well as promote a welcoming, civically engaged community. It's also a powerful take away for John - a volunteer with Coppell Schools and the Coppell Independent School District Education Foundation - who jumped at the chance to join the first Allies cohort because she wanted to branch out from her usual contributions and try something new.
I thought it was a really good opportunity to meet and work with people in the community, she said.
John's strong belief in the age-old adage "It takes a village" is what drives her to serve. When her three children were young and she and her husband were working full time, friends and neighbors all pitched in to provide support for her kids when needed. Now that her younger two children are a little older, she feels she can take the time to help others.
For me, it's just giving back to the community and helping somebody else, she said.
A lot of other people stepped up for my kids. Now I can, too.
While John's volunteering experience includes helping out at school events and camps when possible, as well as presenting super star awards to students and teachers through Coppell Independent School District Education Foundation, Allies has allowed her to give back in a new and interesting way. Originally from India as well as a nearly 20-year resident of Coppell, John's perspective is a valued resource within the group, as are the varied backgrounds of her fellow cohort members.
It's amazing the amount of heritage each one of us brings, she said.
We've gotten to know each other on a deeper level, and that really helps with the acceptance of diversity in our community.
On top of the satisfaction of giving back to her community, John's volunteer experiences have also strengthened her love for Coppell. For her family, there's no place they'd rather be, and that says a lot about the community, she said.
I love the town we have built, she said.
I hope I'm contributing to what it is, and I hope I contribute to the future.