A Valentine’s Day to Remember

A Valentine’s Day to Remember

My Experience

On Friday, Feb. 13th, I raced out of work to strap my kids in their car seats and head to Meadowbrook Senior Center. My daughter was very excited about the very real looking dog in the entryway, and the rest of our visit was exciting as well. We were led into a room with residents in chairs and wheelchairs on all sides of the room. We made our way around, enjoying the smiles and getting mixed reactions to my children’s unusual names. After some teary eyes (including mine), we grouped up for a chorus of “You Are my Sunshine.” Everyone sang along. And I paused, basking in the sunshine that a small gesture can make.

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Reflections

I was really inspired by my friend Katie who, along with her preternaturally sweet 5-year old, Audrey, really took the time to talk to and hug several residents. Looking back, I wish we would have stayed a little longer. Other than that, it was wonderful. I returned home and obsessively checked Facebook to read about other club members who had gone to other homes. One super cool woman had such a great time with her family that she is planning to make regular visits, and her post made me think. I really hope that we will return to a senior center as well because, while handmade cards are AWESOME, (especially some of them that should be featured on Pintrest), building relationships is (in my opinion), the most important part of service.

 Want to do this with you family? Here are five tips…

  1. Call ahead: all the volunteer coordinators we worked with were so kind and helpful, and talking to them in advance is super important. Make sure to ask about parking.
  2. Prepare your kids in advance (and make sure they are healthy): read books to your kids and talk to them about wheelchairs, confusion, etc.
  3. Focus the conversation on the kids: The residents may not remember or want to talk about their own stories, but they seemed to love learning random details about the kids. (Ex. this is my son, and he turned four on Wednesday, etc.)
  4. Take time and give eye contact: I wish I would have followed this advice even more, but real connection comes from taking time and looking people in the eyes.
  5. Go for it: Kids may not be able to build homes for the homeless or advocate vocally for world peace, but they are cute, and cuteness is a big deal for this project…so allow their cuteness to bless others, and let’s get out there and work together to love people on purpose.

 

Treats for Firefighters

Treats for Firefighters

Our Experience

For our first service day, we gathered up our popcorn and muffins and walked over to our neighborhood park on January 19th to meet some new moms and their kids before heading to fire station 32. I was pretty nervous.

After awkwardly trying to figure out if the ladies at the park were there to play or to meet up with us, we made our introductions and loaded our cars. It was a really fun morning. The guys at the station were awesome: they appreciated our treats, and they took the time to show us around. My son loved getting to sit on the driver’s seat of the fire truck, and he was almost beside himself when he found out that he would get to help the spray the hose.

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Reflections

Even though bringing treats to a fire station might not be as helpful as feeding the hungry, I loved the project because my son loved it. It was a fun way to kick off the year and to remind him that we should take time to show gratitude to those who are serving in our community. I am so thankful for everyone who came out, and I can’t wait for our February project!

Want to try this with your family?

If you are interested in doing this with your family, here are some things to think about.

  1. Go for it! It was a great experience and an awesome way to spend a morning.
  2. Call first: They might be busy running a drill or something, so make sure to let the fire chief know when to expect you.
  3. Plan strategic snacks: one of our group members gave us great advice. She suggested bringing food for breakfast or quick, packaged snack foods rather than sweet baked goodies. She said that bananas, bacon, and granola bars would be more helpful for long days. I’m sure any and all snacks are appreciated, but I love her advice.
  4. Get your kids involved! Take them shopping for snacks, read stories, and play with fire trucks at home. Focus on the idea of showing gratitude.

 

We had a great time bringing treats to firefighters, and if you didn’t join us for this project, feel free to go on your own any time. Also, please let people know about our club so that more people can get involved. See our Facebook group at https://www.facebook.com/groups/587494308048193/

Thanks so much for reading, and let’s go love people on purpose!