Body & Soul’s Head of Volunteer Programmes Anneke has written the following tribute to Damien, one of our Teen Spirit volunteers, who sadly died recently.
Damien first walked through the doors of Body & Soul in August 2013 to volunteer his time and skills with young people affected by HIV in Teen Spirit. He had no idea the affect the organisation would have on him or the impact he would have, not only with the young people, but the staff and volunteers too.
The email Damien sent after his first night volunteering at Teen Spirit was exactly what I hope to receive from a new member of the team. “Really enjoyed this evening. A great bunch of people who I look forward to working with. I just hope to be able to help these young people.”
Damien formed strong relationships with particular members of Teen Spirit who were interested in DJing and studio work. I would often find him just sitting on the basement beanbags hanging with a couple of members, discussing future career paths, music, relationships and who knows what else! I always admired how he would target those young people who often sat by themselves or struggled to engage in group settings. He was extremely inclusive, conscious of others and welcoming to those struggling to “fit in”
Throughout his first few months of volunteering, I watched his confidence and ability to connect with the young people at Teen Spirit blossom. He was sure to keep me informed with how he was doing… “I’m already feeling quite attached to the kids. Great personalities and they want to help each other. Amazing. I hope to be able to bring more to the table next week. Fingers crossed.”
Damien was determined to continue his volunteering at Body & Soul even when times were at the hardest for him. Looking back, I believe he didn’t want us to treat him any differently from the rest of the team. A true fighter.
I couldn’t assume to put into words what Body & Soul meant to Damien.All I know is that it did impact him in more ways than one. We will always be thankful for Damien’s time and support and we are richer for the kindness and compassion that he showed at Body & Soul.
Rest in Peace, Damien. You’ll never be forgotten by us all at Body & Soul.
We would love those of you who knew Damien to share your memories of him below.