A major part of Muhlenberg’s mission is connection with the local community, which often comes in the form of volunteer work. Social Butterflies, a club founded by Gabi Klausner ‘24, aims to bridge the gap between Muhlenberg students and children with special needs.
On Oct. 29, members of Social Butterflies went to Camelot for Children, a local nonprofit organization that provides social and educational experiences for children with disabilities and chronic or terminal illnesses. Located in Allentown, Camelot for Children organized their annual Trunk or Treat event for kids with special needs, providing a fun and stress-free environment for Halloween celebrations. Muhlenberg volunteers set up several stations with activities and treats, including a dinosaur-themed station with Inclusive Dino stickers designed specifically for this event. Klausner stated that the stickers “include dinosaur characters and other animals using assistive devices and medical equipment,” as a part of Social Butterflies’ overall mission to “promote representation and inclusivity which brought joy to Camelot’s children and families.” The club regularly volunteers with Camelot for Children, and this event showcases their dedication in promoting an inclusive environment for kids who may otherwise struggle with accessibility during Halloween.
Volunteer Erin DeSandro ‘26 loves the impact Social Butterflies has on the Camelot community: “The inclusive dinosaur stickers that we were handing out were a huge hit and the kids got so happy when they were picking through them. Being able to bring light into the lives of these children for just one day made me so happy and [is] a huge reason why I love going to Camelot with Social Butterflies.” Social Butterflies’ commitment to community change is reflected in their frequent visits to Camelot for Children, and its members share those values of dedication. DeSandro’s involvement personally stems from previous work with special needs children and a desire to make an impact. “I was inspired to join Social Butterflies because I knew that I wanted to do some sort of service that would allow me to make a difference in the lives of children and Social Butterflies seemed like the perfect fit.” Social Butterflies’ dedication to linking student life with community service not only embraces Muhlenberg’s values, but also creates a fulfilling space for students to give back to the community that serves them in a meaningful way.
Klausner founded the club during COVID-19 to create community during an isolating time and to create Social Emotional Learning (SEL) lessons for children with special needs. The club has expanded their work to enact the promises of their mission. “Now in our fourth year, we have expanded our bi-weekly visits from our original school partners at Roosevelt Elementary School to include Camelot for Children, a nonprofit organization providing year-round social and educational opportunities to children with disabilities and chronic or terminal illnesses in a supportive, developmentally appropriate, enriching environment in order to make the magic of childhood accessible to children with unique needs.”
Klausner stated that future plans for the club include “[continuing] to foster our partnerships with Camelot for Children, along with our original Allentown Schools site, Roosevelt Elementary School, for biweekly engagements. We continue to develop new ways to creatively engage all students respectfully via accessible, inclusive and supportive activities and special sessions.” Social Butterflies’ volunteer work not only helps in connecting children with young adults, but Muhlenberg students with the city of Allentown. Fostering connections within the local community is vital to sustain a network between the campus and the local area, especially in the realm of volunteer work. On behalf of the club, Klausner extends her thanks to Beth Halpern, Eveily Freeman and Christiana Campbell for their encouragement and support, as well as the Board of Associates for their generous funding for the Dino-themed station. To get involved in or learn more about Social Butterflies, contact email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.