As some of you may know, the overall focus of this blog is my family’s journey towards living GENEROUS lives. Great idea, right? But how?
While researching volunteer opportunities for my family, I ran across an Atlanta based organization called Compassionate Kids, Incorporated. Even though Compassionate Kids is based in Atlanta, it has local chapters all over the United States. Hmmm, that sounded interesting so I emailed Amy D’Unger, Chair of the Board of Directors with Compassionate Kids to see if she would tell me (and you!) more about the organization. Here’s what Amy said:
1. In a sentence or two can you tell us the mission of Compassionate Kids? The mission of Compassionate Kids, Inc. is to teach children to have compassion for the earth, people, and animals. Read more about us at www.compassionatekids.com
2. Can you discuss a favorite volunteer experience you had as a child or an activity you completed with your children that has had a positive impact on you today? My son is still three, so it's hard to do meaningful volunteer experiences with him quite yet. However, Compassionate Kids had a wonderful event at a nursing home last year on Valentine's Day. Children went to the facility and crafted paper flowers with/for the residents, and attached poems about love and compassion to the flowers. For those residents who were not able to leave their rooms, the children delivered the flowers to them and decorated.
3. What are some of the benefits of volunteering as a family? There are SO many benefits!! First and foremost, it teaches them compassion by watching you, as a parent or guardian, being compassionate. You are leading by example by participating with them in a volunteer or service learning activity. It can be a bonding moment among family members, as conversations and lines of discussion can open up while family members are working together. It can also help you learn more about your child and his or her interests, concerns, and ideas. Finally, it can also assist your child in working in a group or team setting to solve problems. Most volunteer work is done with others, whether family or acquaintances or even strangers, so children learn how to cooperate, work together, and problem solve.
4. How do you find the right volunteer activity for you and your family? You have to be mindful in finding appropriate activities for your child. First and foremost, to make this about *them,* choose an activity that is interesting to them, not necessarily to just you (as the parent). You need to consider your child's age, as well as his or her mental, emotional, and psychological development. Often, volunteer situations can put children in contact with things that may be distressing to them (particularly if they are very sensitive and "tuned in" to others)--people experiencing poverty, animals in need, etc. Will your child be able to process and learn from the experience? How much time does this volunteer task take? Will this be a one-time event, or will it really be most meaningful with continued involvement? You also need to consider the nature of the task, facility, and staff with whom you might be working. Is this really a "child-friendly" environment? Are the staff used to and excited about working with kids, or is this a place best suited for older kids and teens? You can read more about this on the CK website at www.compassionatekids.com/volunteering.shtml.
5. Where can parents go to learn more about Compassionate Kids? Visit us on the web or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.