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Submitted by: The Volunteer Center of Whatcom County

Shawn looked through the Volunteer Chore Program website for a short-term position. But when he was matched with Tylor he got what he wasn’t expecting – a friendship. Five months later, he’s still working with his “short-term” opportunity.

The Chore Program is beneficial for both volunteers and recipients. Photo credit: Clinton Lively.

“I’m so impressed by Shawn. He has such a busy life as an EMT, but he always makes time for Tylor. It is great to see that it’s not only his wish to help but that the two of them have become friends so the experience is even more meaningful for them,” shared Abby Lund, Volunteer Chore Program Specialist.

“At first I had free time and wanted to be a benefit to my community,” Shawn said. “But Ty’s a really cool guy and I like spending time with him. I’ve become friends with him and now it would be like walking out on a friend if I quit. He’s shown me restaurants that I didn’t know about, the game Alexia and I really enjoy hearing Ty’s stories.”

Although Shawn didn’t expect he’d make a friend with the person he volunteered with, Tylor did. But he is pleased that his match with Shawn worked out so well. They have an obvious rapport and enjoy each other’s company.

“I drive Ty places, take out the trash and do some cleaning,” Shawn said. He turns to Ty and smiles at him and adds, “You just don’t want to bother with the trash. I’ve offered to drive him more, but Ty doesn’t take advantage.”

Tylor and Shawn have made a connection. Photo credit: Clinton Lively.

Ty explained that although he enjoys the rides, “I like to get out and walk as often as possible. I can only carry what I can get in my backpack though so I need help shopping.”

When Tylor was born, doctors did not expect him to live more than 24 hours because he was born with Arthogryposis Multiplex Congenital (AMC). Not only did he survive, he lives independently. He surprised his mother when he said that he wanted to move out and move to Bellingham for more of a social life and school. Now he takes the bus to Whatcom Community College where he majors in Psychology.

Shawn discovered the Chore program when he Googled “Volunteer Opportunities” and the Chore program was the first that popped up. “The only skill that you need to be a Chore program volunteer is that you need to have an understanding of interpersonal boundaries,” he said. “When it’s appropriate to help and when a client needs to do it himself so that he doesn’t atrophy. I’m here to help, not do everything and be a crutch for someone.”

Friendship is the best part of life. Photo credit: Clinton Lively.

“The Chore Program has given me more support than I need (as a volunteer),” Shawn said. He shared that his most memorable moment with Ty was when Ty opened up about more personal thoughts that showed Shawn how much he trusted him. ”Trust is super important to me in a relationship,” he said. “Hearing Ty’s stories has been important as part of the social aspect of the relationship, especially since we are close to the same age.”

Ty recommends the Volunteer Chore Program to people who want to remain independent, but need extra help. Shawn said, “I tell my friends all the time about the Chore Program – it’s a great way to give back to the community.”

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