I interned with Hogar de los Angeles for ten weeks in the summer of 2010 and it has been one of my favorite volunteer experiences of all time!
Why you should volunteer here:
1) The daycare structure is amazing.
As a (soon to be) graduate in social work I can't tell people enough how INCREDIBLE this daycare is. The mothers receive free childcare and in return volunteer one hour each day in the daycare center. It's truly an empowering model because the mothers build friendships with each other, get to know their child's teacher and meet volunteers! It's uplifting and inspiring to be there.
2) The staff is helpful and kind
No matter how elementary your Spanish skills may be, the staff at Hogar de los Angeles are patient and understanding. They're used to having volunteers around and know how to make you feel included and useful. I still keep in touch with the teacher I worked with and it's been almost two years! Also, Donna (the founder) and Miguel (the director) are great at getting volunteers oriented to the pace of life in San Miguel and have a genuine interest in you! They really care about you having a good experience.
3) San Miguel is beautiful
Enough said. As part of the "patrimonio de la humanidad" the buildings are impeccably preserved and distinctly colonial. Sometimes it feels like you're in Disneyland or something (visitors frequently draw similarities between la Parroquia and Cinderella's castle)! There is so much to explore and almost always something going on (whether it's a concert, crafts fair, horseback riding, outdoor zumba classes or conversation practice at the library). Just get a copy of Que Pasa? and you're set.
4) The kids. Oh, the kids!
This is the whole reason to come down, of course--the children! I had the privilege of working with a rambunctious class of two year-olds and they were hilarious, friendly and cheeky all at the same time. Like the teachers, the kids are also used to lots of volunteers coming in and out so they're always down to play, even if your Spanish isn't the best.
For detailed information about "what it's really like" to volunteer at Hogar de los Angeles, please check out my blog from 2010. This is seriously a special place.