Special Needs Volunteer - from Jun 30, 2018 - 1 job for 13 months in NPH Dominican.
We need a volunteer to work exclusively with our special needs house. Previous experience with special needs required, specialized skills such as occupational therapy preferred.
Our Special Needs house, San Matias, currently houses 9 special children aged between 3 and 17 years of age. All our children have different needs, ranging from those with profound physical disabilities to psychological and emotional problems. All of the children require a lot of love and attention and even more patience, but they will repay you ten-fold with their laughter and love, hugs and smiles.
We currently have five caregivers working in the house on any given day and one full-time volunteer who spends his days playing with the children and giving them one-on-one attention tailored to their individual needs. In addition, these children receive physical and/or occupational therapies and several attend school in the morning, in the special needs classroom.
We are primarily looking for a volunteer who can play with the children and give them individualized loving attention. The current volunteer takes the children one-by-one for 30-60 minute sessions. He may take the children for walks, play games, go on excursions, take them to interact with other children, or simply sit and embrace them, depending on the child’s needs and capabilities. He also helps out where needed in the children’s physical therapy sessions. This role is very open to interpretation. The only real requirement being that you come with love and patience and are not afraid to get messy. The rest is up to you - whether you walk, play, teach, read to, paint with, dance with the kids, or help them with their learning and/or therapy sessions. You will spend most of your daytime hours in the special needs house and will be expected to sleep in the house as well, during your working schedule. You will, however, be allocated another house in which to eat and play during the afternoons.
The work is not easy. Our current volunteer, Jacob, explains: “The work can be physically draining because you spend most of the day on your feet and playing. However, while tiring, the work is very rewarding because the kids are wonderful and you can see the happiness on their faces every moment you spend time with them.” Another difficulty can be lack of normal social interaction, as all but one of the children cannot talk. That said, there are certainly many non-verbal ways they will communicate with you and you can also count on the support and friendship of the caregivers in the house. You will also have a chance to be outside the house and working with another group of children for several hours each day.
Qualities of a successful Special Needs applicant:
- Not afraid to get dirty
- Physically fit
- Emotionally strong
- Has some experience with special needs children or adults (preferred but not essential)
Special Needs House Supervisor
For the right candidate, and if they are willing to make a longer-term commitment (2+ years), we would consider growing the role into a supervisory position where the volunteer would also be responsible for creating a schedule of work and playtime for all of the caregivers and seeing that the schedule is being followed as considered appropriate. This would essentially be house supervisor role and would report directly to the House Director. Organizing the house, the children’s schedule, the caregivers’ duties, and the attention each child needs would all fall to the Special Needs House Supervisor.
Additional Qualities of a successful House Supervisor applicant:
- Speaks Spanish to a high level
- Well organized
- Excellent communications skills
- Culturally sensitive and open-minded
- Confident in social interactions
- Not afraid to speak out for what is right
- Experience working with children (especially with Special Needs children)
- People management experience (preferred but not essential)
- Willing to make a longer-term commitment to the role (2+ years)
There exists the possibility of compensation in second and subsequent years for the House Supervisor position.