Last weekend, four Family Service Club coordinators dropped off Easter baskets for families dealing with pediatric cancer. (You can read about this exciting project in this article on Showing Love to those Suffering from Illness). I was out of town when our coordinators dropped off the baskets, but my eyes were glued to my phone as I teared up looking at pictures of baskets, hugs, and smiles. We can’t cure cancer, but we brought joy to a few families, and that is awesome.
Not long after the delivery, I was on the phone with my friend, Katie. As she should have been, Katie was concerned about following up after dropping off the baskets. She and her daughter met Dylan, an amazing 2-year-old boy suffering from brain and eye cancer. Compassionate by nature, Katie is now committed to spending time with Dylan and his mom, and she wants to continue to help them meet their needs. In fact, she is so passionate about this that she is working to help raise money for them to buy a car. During our conversation, I started thinking about the importance of following up when it comes to relationships, life, and service. The truth is, it is difficult to make a lasting impact without creating lasting relationships. I really want to work on this myself, so I’m going to share a few ideas on how to follow-up after service projects, and I would love to hear yours as well.
Tips to help build relationships after service projects
1. Devote time to talking with individuals: when you are in the middle of a service project, make a concerted effort to talk to people and listen to their stories. This is, of course, the first step in building a relationship. Follow-up is easier when you begin to care for people.
2. Learn, remember, and write down names: Did you bring brownies to firefighters? Write down the name of the fireman who gave you a tour and enjoyed your brownies. Did you bring valentines to residents from an assisted-living home? Write down the names of a few residents that you connected with.
3. Return to the place where you served: One of the members of our club had a great experience delivering valentines, and she is now visiting the same assisted-living home regularly with her family. I was thrilled to hear about this. We can really serve people by getting to know them, remembering their names, and seeing them as often as possible. If you and your family really enjoy doing a specific type of service project, do it as often as you can! We can make an impact through creating relationships.
4. Help people meet their needs: When we get to know people suffering from illness or struggling with poverty, their specific needs often become clear. You may not be able to meet all of their needs, but you can think creatively about how you can help. You can organize a donation drive for kids in foster care; you can start a gofundme fundraiser to help a family buy a car; you can bring socks to a homeless person. Whenever we help anyone meet his/her needs, we get closer to that person.
I created the Family Service Club in part to introduce my kids to different types of service, to expose them to different people, and to help all of us think creatively about service, but in this process, I don’t want to neglect to take the next steps. Time permitting, I want to reconnect with people we have met in order to build and grow relationships. Like I said, I’m still thinking about how to do this well, so please let me know if you have ideas. Let’s work together to make people feel acknowledged, loved, and supported. Also, if you are interested, click here to start a club of your own. You can also follow us on Instagram for daily ideas on sharing kindness. Thank you so much for reading, and let’s go love people on purpose.