Student finds purpose through charitable work with children

Andee Wunno, senior communication and sciences disorders major, has dedicated almost eight years of her life to volunteering with children. Photo credit: Alisa Thorsen

Teaching how to tell time and tie shoes may be involved in teaching children with special needs, but Andee Wunno finds that building meaningful friendships with children is just as important.

Wunno, a senior communication sciences and disorders major, has been a part of CAVE, a volunteer organization on campus, since her first year at Chico State. Through the organization, she spent four semesters in the Special Pals Program and one semester with Animal Connections.

“Supporting the community and broadening your experiences is what we stand for,” Wunno said.

Throughout high school and college, Wunno dedicated her time to helping children with special needs, she said.

Wunno first became interested in volunteering during her first-year orientation because she was told it was a great opportunity to build her resume. But she soon realized that her work held a much more important purpose: helping students who were struggling in school either in their academics or behaviorally, she said.

“You get paired with one student to work with, but you end up helping everyone in the class,” Wunno said.

Wunno made an impact on many people she worked with, especially one little girl in the Special Pals Program, she said.

“She didn’t know how to tie her shoes or tell time, so I would help her out during recess and eventually she learned to do both,” Wunno said. “Sometimes she would wait for me before school so I could do her hair and help her get ready for the school day.”

Wunno has found joy throughout all of her volunteering experiences, she said.

“Each time you somehow make a difference in their lives,” Wunno said. “Every single time I’ve volunteered they make you cards and say thank you. It’s just cool to know you left a mark.”

Wunno has not only volunteered through Chico State, but also worked throughout high school in different volunteer programs.

“I was part of a program called HBIC in high school, which is Help for Brain Injured Children,” Wunno said. “So I have always worked with the special needs population.”

If Wunno’s plans to attend graduate school fall through, she hopes to return to the program and work alongside her family to make a difference with disabled children, she said.

Although Wunno is graduating in the spring, she plans on devoting herself to philanthropic efforts all throughout her life, she said.

“CAVE has made my college experience.” Wunno said. “Anyone can go to class, but to make the best out of your college experience you should broaden your horizons and help someone who isn’t as lucky as you are.”

Alisa Thorsen can be reached at [email protected] or @alisathorsen on Twitter.