Hello SOTGC community,
“Love cannot remain by itself – it has no meaning. Love has to be put into action and that action is service.” ~ Mother Teresa
My world forever changed on May 10, 2002, when my husband visited me at my office and uttered the most precious words a woman could ever hear, “Happy 1st Mother’s Day, you are pregnant.” How is that possible?! How could he know this amazing news before me? Well, we had gone through seven years of infertility struggles and treatment, and our fertility doctor had contacted my husband so he could share the wonderful news with me. Finally, after years of waiting, we were finally going to have a baby. Wait … four weeks later we realized not “baby” but “babies”!
We were doubly blessed that November as our sons, Colin and Sean, decided to enter this world eight weeks early. As fast as they entered the world, and even now, 11 ½ years later, they have yet to slow down. Every day I find myself wondering if we have helped build a foundation that will sustain them throughout their life. Do they know to be compassionate of others and open-minded to differing opinions? Will they put others before themselves and lead by positive example? When I kiss them goodbye each day (this now occurs a block from the school when I drop them off) and whisper in their ear “make good choices,” “be a friend to everyone,” and “be respectful to your teachers,” do they listen?
This school year was 5th grade, and it focused on preparing them for entering middle school in the fall. The fact that my boys are turning into young men before my eyes has brought about an entirely different set of emotions associated with my “mommy heartstrings.” Something even more substantial has happened, though, their interest in giving back to their community. At the beginning of school, their building counselor introduced the Community Service Award they could work towards throughout the year. The requirements were broken down for each month with various activities aiding in awareness of community and national needs. I have watched each of my boys’ interests start with curiosity, grow from being somewhat engaged, to being fully immersed in helping and learning from their experiences.
During this past year they have collected the traditional Box Tops for Schools and pop tabs for Ronald McDonald House. They have collected donations for American Heart Association through Hoops for Hearts; participated in the Math Marathon for Children’s Mercy Hospital; donated items to the Bright Futures Blue Barrel Projects; and created/completed household chores without being prompted. None of these activities are unique to my community, and they are probably done in nearly every community throughout our nation. What can be unique is the way we chose to support these efforts and help the children of our nation learn from each experience.
This year, I made it a point to check in on how they were progressing in the achievement of their community service goals. When the event was taking place, I reminded them it was their responsibility to do the work. That was just as much of a learning opportunity for them as for me. I realized it was time for me to step back and walk beside them to help when they needed it but not to do the work for them. I took on the role as teacher and advocate to support them through the process so they could truly enjoy the fruits of their labor. When the activity was completed, I talked with them about how they felt when they were participating and what they learned.
The last two activities for this school year was with their youth group and focused on helping those that face hunger every day. The first activity was packing backpacks for fellow students enrolled in the Backpack Program. The recipients of the backpacks are on the free and reduced lunch program in our community. At the end of the week these students received a backpack full of food to help minimize their hunger throughout the weekend. The last activity was to travel to an inner city church in Kansas City to help serve food to the homeless. During this event, they saw people of all ages, even children their age and as young as three years old. They worked very hard that day preparing the tables, serving the meals, picking up trash, setting up for additional groups to come through, and cleaning up in the end.
When we drove away that day, Colin and Sean were unusually quiet. I asked them what was on their mind, and they responded with a simple, yet poignant response, “sadness.” At that moment I had a flood of emotions; grateful that my husband and I are able to provide food and shelter every day for our children; desire to do more, give more, and never give up hope for a better tomorrow for everyone; and an overwhelming sense of pride that my children saw and cared for the wellbeing of complete strangers.
As this school year is winding down, I reflect back on the changes I have witnessed in my sons. Not only their physical changes, but how they view the world through a compassionate heart, and I am forever grateful for those that had a hand in this change. Last week we celebrated National Volunteer Week, and I want to take a moment to say “Thank You” to all that give of their time, and to those that lead by example so our younger generations have a chance to learn and lead with a servant’s heart. It is never too late to serve others, and it is never too late to teach a child to serve!
“If you wait until you can do everything for everybody, instead of something for somebody, you’ll end up not doing anything for anybody.” ~ Malcom Bane
If this post resonated with you, create a relationship with a child and work together to Give Back! Please Tweet, Pin or share on LinkedIn or Facebook.