Haley Kilpatrick, Founder of Girl Talk Inc. describes volunteering as “contagious; when you offer help, you really see that you can make a difference, and you want to keep doing it. Plus, the psychological payoff is incredible. ….a surefire way to increase personal happiness”. Kilpatrick goes on to suggest that girls (and I believe boys too) need to see the reality of the lives of others “to instill a gratitude for what she or he has”. Connecting in the community needs to be an ongoing activity, not a one-time thing. One year ago my daughter and I joined an organization that has mothers and daughters volunteering in their communities together. I was not entirely sure how I was going to make this happen. I am a full time working mother of three children all of whom play competitive sports. (and yes I am present at most of their events) In reflecting on this past year I can say this, Yes, it is doable, and yes it is entirely worth it. We gave over 80 hours in our community doing everything from fur kids adoption Saturdays, to making emergency room kits for Egleston Children’s Hospital, to serving dinner at Agape, to delivering meals to elderly homebound individuals. Not only did I get to spend extra time with my own child, but I got to serve children and adults in our community. The first thing we both noticed was that some of these individuals live very close to us, and in some cases attend the school my children attend. We both stepped out of our overscheduled, technology driven worlds and were really present to others less fortunate than ourselves. An added benefit was that I gave my daughter the opportunity to see herself in ways she would not have otherwise experienced. She knows she is a good student and a strong athlete, but now she also knows that she can bring joy to others by being present and giving her time and attention to those in need.
It is the gift that keeps on giving and one we should make the time to give to all of our children.