Gabby Partlo’s passion for volunteering has opened her eyes to those around her


Gabby Partlo

Gabby’s passion for volunteering stems from unmatched experiences.

What started as a struggle to get volunteer hours for the National Honors Society has now sparked a passion for volunteering in senior Gabby Partlo’s life. 

Every year, junior and senior students with notably high GPAs are offered the opportunity to be a part of NHS. Students included in this group show care and interest for their community by accumulating a minimum number of volunteer hours, and Gabby has been a part of this esteemed group for the past two years. 

But for her, the act of volunteering goes beyond just meeting the requirements to keep her place in NHS. 

“This year,” Gabby said, “I haven’t been focusing on just getting hours [for NHS], but just doing it consistently. I’m past the 18 [required hours] because I do it on a regular basis. I do it because I want to do it, whereas last year, I was struggling to get hours.”

One organization, in particular, has been a place that Gabby has consistently volunteered for: Grace’s Table in downtown Grand Rapids. 

Grace’s Table is an organization that works to walk alongside young, pregnant moms who may need a little guidance and help to figure life out at such a young age. They aim to implement skills, offer mentorship, and provide hospitality to the moms in an attempt to make that tough time for them a bit easier.

The organization was actually started by a woman who was a young mom as well, and she felt passionate about trying to help women who are in a similar position that she was. 

Gabby’s volunteering role there is helping out with the kids while the moms listen to a lesson or congregate together. 

“I usually do the childcare part of it,” Gabby said. “I’ll take care of kids while [the moms] do a lesson or something, and then they’ll do dinner. [I love] hanging out [and] playing with the kids. They’re all ages–one-month-old to 12-year-olds–and it’ll just be different [every time].”

After hearing about Grace’s Table through someone at her mom’s work, volunteering there has become a regular occurrence in Gabby’s schedule throughout this past year.

“Usually, I do Wednesdays,” Gabby said. “I would just do it wherever I had free time, but lately, they’ve been wanting consistency for the moms so they’ve been [meeting] biweekly. As long as I’m available on Wednesday night every two weeks, then I’ll [volunteer there].”

I mostly enjoy it because of the people there, and I’m really glad I found out about it.”

— Gabby Partlo

Some of the other volunteers that work there alongside Gabby had been set up with the experience through their college, and it is especially vital to those who may wish to pursue social work or something surrounding that area of study.  

The overall experience has really opened Gabby’s eyes to those around her in her community and gave her an unmatched opportunity to be a part of. 

“I honestly do it because I enjoy doing it,” Gabby said. “I’ve also gotten to know people through it, [and] I love playing with the little kids, knowing that I can at least be some help since being a parent at any age is not easy. I mostly enjoy it because of the people there, and I’m really glad I found out about it; it’s definitely something I can look forward to doing.”

Though she may not be able to directly relate to the young mothers, Gabby has taken some lessons from observing and being a part of the organization in one way or another. 

“[I’ve learned] that there’s always another way to figure it out and make things work,” Gabby said. “Sometimes, it’s a good thing to get help because clearly, you can be in a tough situation and you can make do with it. There are always ways to figure stuff out and get help.”