I love to travel, but wherever I go, Lafayette is always home. Because Lafayette holds a special place in my heart, I am driven to help make it a better place. One way I try to make Lafayette a better place is volunteering. Growing up my parents were very involved volunteering so it was natural for me to continue the tradition.
When my children started at school I began volunteering with the PTO. I remember one year as part of a Mother’s Day project my son was asked “what his mom likes to do.” My son replied, “be at school with me.” I love being at school for events, outings, seeing my kids, and getting to know their teachers and friends. I like having a relationship with my kids’ teachers, after all they are with my kids most of the day. I found volunteering allowed me to get to know their teachers, and help them by class sitting or bringing supplies. I also enjoyed fundraising for my kids schools so we could make improvements or bring in additional guest speakers. For instance, a few years ago, the PTO I was on coordinated a school appearance by Marc Brown, the author of the Arthur books. However, not all volunteering has been selfless; I have made wonderful friendships with other parents. They have become true treasures to me.
My kids have gotten older, and now we are at different schools. My oldest is at David Thibodaux STEM Magnet Academy, and my youngest is at J.Wallace James. Although there are fewer opportunities for volunteering in Middle School, they are there, and I still love knowing my son’s friends and teachers especially as he gets older.
I have also begun to volunteer in the community through Junior League of Lafayette and Cub Scouts. Junior League of Lafayette provides me with an opportunity to enhance my leadership skills, while surrounding myself with women leaders in the community. I have also had the opportunity to take part in a program focusing on distracted driving targeted at high school kids, and teach healthy eating and growing your own food for younger kids. I find a deep satisfaction in knowing I am making a difference in the lives of people within my own community. In addition to Junior League and Cub Scouts, I also volunteer with a local parent group, Lafayette Parents for Education. LPE is a group of parents in Lafayette Parish whose mission is to create connections for success that benefit all children in the Lafayette Parish School System. We believe every child should have access to quality education, and that quality education benefits everyone in the community. LPE provides me with an outlet to find ways to help all kids in Lafayette Parish in a positive and productive way.
While volunteering at my son’s schools, I found out that most nurses in Lafayette Parish public schools were buying supplies out of their own pocket. As a nurse myself, I asked why. Most of them said they got supplies from their schools at the beginning of the year, but mid year they were depleted. Around January, teachers can send home requests for needed supplies, but nurses don’t have this access. So, they buy bottles of water here and kleenex there. After discussing this with the board of Lafayette Parents for Education, we decided we could help collect supplies and raise awareness. If you are interested in becoming a member of LPE or donating to the medical drive please visit us on our website www.lafayetteparentsforeducation.org.
Lafayette Parish public schools have so many wonderful volunteer opportunities. I encourage you to get involved, help out as much as you can, and be the good you see everywhere in Lafayette. We truly live in a special place, and the wonderful people here are what makes Lafayette amazing.
Courtney Neidetcher is a native of Lafayette. She loves to spend time with family and friends soaking up the cajun culture. She loves traveling with her husband Demain and kids Ryder and Bodhi. You will often find her practicing yoga, cooking, and hanging out with her family and their Goldendoodle Finn. She is passionate about volunteering in her community and enjoying life!