Saturday, July 03, 2010

The Family that Volunteers Together . . .

Today, as a service project for our community, our family volunteered to help a local non-profit organization during one of its fundraising events.  Volunteering together was a fun thing to do as a family.  It was satisfying to know that our efforts were advancing a good cause; it was fun to interact with people throughout the day (and people who were in a good mood because they were there to have fun); and the weather was gorgeous--just perfect for a day spent outdoors.  We got to spend quality time together as a family, but Susan and I also got to watch our daughters "in action" independently as they carried out their assigned duties and made us simultaneously proud (our babies are growing up) and melancholy (our babies are growing up).

The Western Wellness Foundation (remember?) serves disadvantaged children by providing them with adult and young adult mentors to form stable relationships with the kids, take them on social outings, provide academic tutoring, etc.  One of the Foundation's fundraisers (to fund its mentoring programs) is Family Fun Day, an event that happens on the Saturday of our city's Independence Day parade.  In a park just south of the parade route, they set up a concessions stand and a variety of games and activities that appeal to young children.  After the parade, parents and grandparents bring their littluns to the park, and "fun is had by all."

This year children could get a pony ride, enjoy a petting zoo, ride in a train (each train car seats one child in a sideways-turned barrel on wheels, and the interconnected barrels are pulled by a lawn tractor), or play on a variety of gigantic inflatable amusements (e.g., slides, houses for bouncing around in, a jousting rink with soft, air-filled lances).  Police officers and firefighters had their vehicles there so kids could see inside and turn on the flashing lights.  At the concessions stand, people could order bratwursts, hot dogs, chips, and cold beverages.

Susan, Hillary, and I were assigned to the concessions stand: I grilled the hot dogs and bratwursts, and Hillary and Susan fetched the food as people placed their orders.  Suzanna was assigned to an inflatable slide at which she took tickets, helped little kids up to the top, encouraged them to come down, and helped them off.  Abigail was assigned to the train at which she took tickets, made sure that all the barrels were full, and gave the "go ahead" signal to the engineer.  (I even got a turn engineering when the guy who drove the lawn tractor most of the day got sick of driving around and around the park and asked to swap duties.)

After the day had ended, Suzanna told us that she was not amused by children who resisted getting off the slide when their turn was over or who tried to get on the slide without a ticket.  However, she did a great job and maintained a calm exterior and positive attitude all day.

As the crowds thinned toward the end of the afternoon, other volunteers took over for a few of us, allowing Hillary and Abigail to leave their posts and play a little bit.  They rode the train and played on some of the inflatable attractions, but a highlight for each of them was the pony rides.

Elizabeth guided Abigail's pony, Sugar

Patrick guided Hillary's pony, Trigger

Family Fun Day ran from noon to 4:00 P.M., but we arrived early and stayed late to help with set-up and clean-up tasks.  So we were plenty pooped from a day spent standing and running around outdoors.  However, the weather and setting could not have been better.  It was sunny, but there was a strong, cool breeze all day long and plenty of clouds to keep the sun from blazing.  The park provided lots of shade beneath its tall trees, and it's located on the north bank of the Heart River.  The children's train path took us down near the river, and it was beautiful to hear the rush of the flowing water and smell its coolness, view the variety of greens in the vegetation across the river on the south bank, and hear the laughter of people who had come to the park today not for Family Fun Day but to swim.  What a lovely day!

1 comment:

  1. It really was a lovely day -- both weather & task-wise!