I know some people who are a bit anti-Valentine’s Day. They lament the fact that it seems to be a holiday created and perpetuated by Hallmark. I understand where they are coming from, but, regardless of the way you feel about Valentine’s Day, you can’t deny that it is an opportunity to show love. And that’s what we are all about here at the Family Service Club. Last year, we had a fantastic time giving valentines to residents of assisted-living homes. This is an easy, inexpensive way to make someone’s day a little brighter.
WANT TO DO THIS WITH YOU FAMILY?
- 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.
- Prepare your kids in advance (and make sure they are healthy): read books to your kids (see below) and talk to them about things they may not be aware of (wheelchairs, confusion, etc.).
- 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.)
- 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. (Optional): Share your experience: post pictures of your visit on our Facebook page, or share a“success story” with us on the blog. The more we share our stories, the more others want to be involved.
We were lucky enough to have some valentines donated to us from various elementary classrooms last year, but we can always make these ourselves if that isn’t a possibility. There are numerous websites with cute ideas for cards, but nothing fancy is required. As you would expect, the senior citizens appreciated the effort more than anything.
I always find it helpful to use stories to help my kids prepare for and understand various situations. This is one that I used before and after our visit last year.
Wilfrid Gordon McDonald Partridge by Mem Fox, illustrated by Julie Vivas: This cute book is about a boy who makes friends with the residents of a nursing home. It is an easy way to introduce this idea to younger kids.
I am still figuring out how to help my son to have meaningful conversations when we visit assisted-living homes, but I know the effort is an important one. 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.