We live in a society where material things mean more than being happy, fulfilled and having self respect. I am constantly amazed by how children have changed throughout the years, everything needs to be done right now, always needs to be entertained, nothing is ever good enough, not respecting their belongings and ours, not respecting adults and most of all not respecting themselves.
My husband and I try to lead by example, teach our boys to first respect themselves and then others. Just as many parents, we want our children to grow up with the appreciation of the things they are given such as; a house, food on the table nightly, new clothes for every season, and many toys at their fingertips. I have to say it hasn’t been easy, as a culture we are impatient, nothing is every good enough, we always want more, we are in a hurry 247 and always thinking of the big things we can give our children, instead of the little things such as the importance of volunteering to help make other lives better.
When we were in Michigan this summer we had a great opportunity to spend time with my brother Rick at a local Soup Kitchen that he volunteers at. My brother is a recovering alcoholic for over 20 years and has made the members of his AA group his family. These members meet at Saint Andrews Church in Flint Mi and they also help run a Soup Kitchen with Father Jay. I am so grateful for these men and women that my brother call family, not only did they help him through the last 20 years to keep sober but when he lost his wife (of 32 years) to cancer in May of 2010 they kept him alive. So I knew that when we went for our yearly visit I had to meet his “other” family. I also thought it would be a perfect opportunity for my boys to see that not everyone lives the same type of life they do.
So we all got up bright and early and headed to the soup kitchen. You may ask yourself…”what can a young child do in a soup kitchen without being in the way”. Well, I was happily surprised…they can do a lot! We first came in and got introduced to everyone, then they went downstairs to the pantry and retrieved cans of corn, cake mix and other ingredients for the meal. They helped make a red velvet cake, poured corn into a pot, placed cut up fruit in bowls and then worked in the garden with a volunteer weeding.
Before lunch began Father Jay held mass for those that wanted to join in. Everyone went around saying one thing that they wanted to pray for and everyone participated throughout. Father Jay then one by one blessed everyone; Jackson asked what that special oil was for. My answer – “It’s magic, it helps you be a good person, and help others in need.”
When mass was over we headed into the kitchen to begin the food line. People would check in at the door and we will fill plates until all the people were served. Jackson was at the beginning of the line handing out plates and Finn was at the end handing out napkins and silverware. I was in the middle plating food. Fridays are light days so there were about 50 people that came through the line, many had seconds and thirds.
Afterwards when the cleaning was done I had a great opportunity to sit down with Father Jay and talk to him a bit about his parish, the soup kitchen and the help he needs to keep it all going. From the minute I met him and the other volunteers I could see the passion within them. They LOVE what they do and consider the people they work with their family and have formed relationships with some of the regulars that come through the Soup Kitchen. They are a strong community; you could feel it straight away. It was a very emotional day for me. I got to see where my brother spends most of his time, I got to meet his second family and also THANK them for helping my brother through the most difficult time in his life. I can’t express how thankful I am to them.
Now that we are back in the Philadelphia area I would love to find a great opportunity like St. Andrews in our area so I can keep reinforcing the importance of helping others to my children. Volunteering is a wonderful, empowering message for kids that they're important enough to have an impact on someone or something else.
Why volunteer at a soup kitchen? The simple answer is that it's just a good thing to do -- for both your community and yourself. Making sure people have basic nutrition is incredibly important to their health and wellbeing. And volunteering at a soup kitchen, like volunteering for other charitable groups, is a very rewarding experience, which in turn can be beneficial to your overall health and wellbeing.
Reasons why Volunteering is a “Good Thing” for children and adults (because we forget sometimes too)
A sense of responsibility. By volunteering, kids and teens learn what it means to make and keep a commitment. They learn how to be on time for a job, do their best, and be proud of the results. But they also learn that, ultimately, we're all responsible for the well-being of our communities.
The benefit of sacrifice. By giving up a toy to a less fortunate child, a child learns that sometimes it's good to sacrifice.
Tolerance. Working in community service can bring kids and teens in touch with people of different backgrounds, abilities, ethnicities, ages, and education and income levels. They'll learn that even the most diverse individuals can be united by common values.
Job skills. Community service can help young people decide on their future careers. Learning to work as a team member, taking on leadership roles, setting project goals — these are all skills that can be gained by volunteering and will serve kids well in any future career.
How to fill idle time wisely. If kids aren't involved in traditional after-school activities, community service can be a wonderful alternative.
It feels good. The satisfaction and pride that come from helping others are important reasons to volunteer. When you commit your time and effort to an organization or a cause you feel strongly about, the feeling of fulfillment can be endless.
It strengthens your community. Organizations and agencies that use volunteers are providing important services at low or no cost to those who need them. When a community is doing well as a whole, its individuals are better off, too.
It can strengthen your family. Volunteerism is a great way for families to have fun and feel closer. But many people say they don't have the time to volunteer after fulfilling work and family commitments. If that's the case, try rethinking some of your free time as a family. You could select just one or two projects a year and make them a family tradition (for example, making and donating gift baskets to care facilities for the elderly around the holidays).
Do you and your children volunteer? If so I’d love to hear your story!
In : O'Boy! Giving Back
Tags: volunteering kids vacation
blog comments powered by Disqus