Monday, August 29, 2011

Volunteering with Kids

Last week, my husband, daughter and I volunteered at Project Home. Project Home is a local program where area churches house homeless families when the shelters are full. Since the shelters are always full, Project Home is busy all year.

Our church commits to providing volunteers for certain weeks. There are two sets of volunteers each night. One group spends the evening hours with the families, visiting, providing snacks, playing with kids and more. The other volunteers - usually a man and woman - spend the night at the church with the families.

Paul, Juliana, and I volunteered for the evening shift. Before we went, Juliana did not want to go. She was quite adamant about it. I didn't blame her. It can be a little scary volunteering with people you have never met and who are at a difficult point in their life. What will I talk about? What will I do? Will three hours seem like forever?

Well, I told her we were all going. Frankly, the idea of sitting on my couch watching TV after a long day sounded appealing to me too. But, we had made a commitment.

So, we went to Project Home. Five families were our guests that evening with family members ranging in age from 1 year to mid-forties. At first, Juliana didn't know what to do. She sort of stood around next to her dad. But then she started to warm up.

She played Candyland with an 8 year-old boy and then worked on a puzzle with a Mom and 16 year-old. Then, Candyland came back out for another round with a little boy who arrived later in the evening.

When our shift was over and we were headed home, I asked Juliana if the evening was OK after all. She said, "It was fine." I thought that was a pretty good answer for a 13-year old.

I think it's important to volunteer as a family. It shows kids that helping others is valued and that their participation is just as important as the adults'. Plus, a side bonus is that you might meet new people and have a lot of fun!

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