Windham Area Interfaith Ministry
Windham Area Interfaith Ministry (WAIM) uplifts and unites the community by providing caring services and resources to meet the needs of the community. They provide clothing, furniture, appliances, linens, career clothing and emergency financial assistance to over 8,000 people each year from Windham and twelve surrounding towns. Volunteers will be assigned responsibilities by WAIM’s Volunteer Coordinator. These responsibilities could include assisting the staff with various duties, client check-ins, sorting clothing and donated items. Volunteer opportunities are available 9:30–11:30 AM on Wednesdays and Fridays.
Leah James, December 13th, 2013
I always remembered my parents repeating to my Brother and I that all they wanted us to be in life was a hardworking productive citizen. In my family we were raised to serve our community and to help those in need and to also acknowledge how fortunate we were to have a roof over our heads and will never know what it’s like to struggle. With that being instilled in our minds, I decided to never let that wish of being a productive citizen go undesired and continued to fulfill my role as a citizen. At a young age, I became a girl scout and then I decided to join best buddies then shortly after that I joined a mentoring group called Daughters of Esther in Bloomfield, CT.
My 2nd year into eastern I went to the club fair and stopped by the CCE table and knew that what I wanted to do was right in front of me; and that was to help those who needed aid in my community which is where I attend school. Though it wasn’t a community I wasn’t raised in, it still didn’t stop me from serving a community that I temporarily live in. I came across WAIM which is located on 866 Main St, Willimantic CT. This place was perfect for me because just reading the description sparked my interest and I
wanted to try something different. I never knew places like WAIM existed. At this non-profit organization, they provided kitchenware, TVs, furniture of every kind, clothes for every age group and size. What even fascinated me the most was the “career closet,” which to my understanding was specific closet for those who had job interviews but didn’t have an outfit. We offered an outfit and then when they get the job, we provided the individual with more work clothes.
WAIM’s mission is to uplift and unite the Willimantic community by providing and caring service and resources to meet neighbor’s needs with dignity and respect. It was amazing to see the community of Willimantic be so generous and giving each morning I volunteered. These people pulled into the loading dock with such warm and positive spirits to drop of resources for those who weren’t as fortunate. They stopped and engaged with us, the volunteers and workers and I noticed some were even
regulars. WAIM is also a volunteer driven organization that serves about 7,500 people a year via basic services and special programs! They’ve also expanded into the provision of energy assistance and administering funds to prevent homelessness.
I felt like this place was extremely wonderful for those in need. The items we had by the way were donated by people all over Willimantic that was no longer useful to them. We had so many things in variety as far as car seats, quilts, toys and strollers for the children. WAIM even provided wheelchairs, electric wheel chairs, canes, and crutches for the elderly and disabled. Whatever you needed, WAIM had it. The fact that these items were free made it even better because these are people who need a helping hand.
My duties were to organize clothes depending on age group and sizes, organizing household items, unloading the dock, and doing whatever miscellaneous things that needed to be attended to. I’ve met with citizens and other volunteers from different backgrounds and areas and I learned so much about them, I learned that though they were just like me; they’ve had many different struggles they had to overcome but the fact that they would still come in with a smile on their face was very inspiring. I feel like it’s always refreshing to know that when people go through the tough things in life, they can still remain optimistic and with the help of WAIM; I know this organization has changed their lives and have contributed to the warm smiles on their faces.
I’ve not only learn about the objective and mission of this organization but I was also able to learn from those around me. I was able to learn from volunteers who’ve had a rough life who came to this program that was a part of their recovery and also from those who’ve come to collect things that they were in need of. I was able to form a relationship and create trust between individuals and I were they would open up to me about their lives and struggles. I’ve learned that something as little as volunteering for 2 hours a week made more of an impact than I thought. It has helped me put my selfishness to the side and to acknowledge how fortunate I am and to take my energy and to put it into something very productive. I am grateful for the time I’ve spent with WAIM.
The Windham Area Interfaith Ministry hosted Walk for Warmth, marathon to raise poverty awareness. The Center of Community Engagement volunteered to help set up the walk by placing posters around the town of Willimantic about poverty facts. After the mass at St. Joseph’s and the walk, The CCE set up a children’s activities table with coloring books and making turkey masks. Victoria Nimirowski , the director of WAIM, said that the Walk for Warmth raised $42,000, which she said it was the biggest year in 23 years of the walk.
“We are very grateful to Eastern, and to the Center for Community Engagement for all the help and support they provide for this event. The students are wonderful to work with, and are always so willing to do whatever is needed”. Victoria Nimirowski, Director of Windham Area Interfaith Ministry.