Bear with me while I brag just a little… I’ve been recently inspired by my 14 year old and a group of her friends. I honestly didn’t think it was possible for a group of teenagers to motivate me the way they’ve done. Okay, so about a month ago my daughter came to me and told me about a plan that she and her friends had to start volunteering at local charities in our community. It was really strange to me because the girl who came up with this idea was formerly a girl who had been into a lot of trouble. She was born to a 14 year old mother who suffered from a mental disorder and consequently Julia’s friend was exposed to MANY men who sexually abused her, with no protection from her mother. Naturally, this girl turned to drugs and sex at a VERY young age. I have a heart for wayward kids because I, myself, was a wayward kid. Where would I be if not for the love of other people outside my own family? BUT… now that I’m a mother, I have to draw the line somewhere. I’d seen so much BAD from this girl and I had to make the decision to limit the time Julia was spending with her friend. This hurt me because it went against everything I believed in but I needed to protect my own. I still made myself available for the family and offered to babysit her little brothers (she’s got 4 of them because her mother just keeps having babies) in order that Julia’s friend and her mother could have a break. I contacted this girl’s grandparents when she broadcasted a plan that she had to commit suicide. This resulted in her being removed from her mother’s home and placed with her grandparents. This is where her life turned around! For over a year now “L” has been doing fantastic! She’s SO smart, above average intelligence, and is now making straight “A’s” in school. She became active in her church and just wanted to do something to give back to her community. She felt like if she focuses her time on doing GOOD, it would help her with disposing of some of the “demons” in her own mind. A year’s a pretty long time in the life of a 14 year old! I’m so proud of her. Besides, doing good makes us ALL feel pretty terrific, right?
SO, “L” printed out fliers announcing a meeting after school for anyone who wanted to be part of her little group of volunteers. At first, there were only a few of them who were interested. NOW, after a month, there’s around 10 kids and it’s still growing. 10 is a start though and it gives me SUCH a thrill to watch as these kids take pride in what they’re doing! The first location they chose to volunteer at is a place called Heaven’s Closet. They all met at the school EARLY on a Saturday morning and they departed for Heaven’s Closet where they sorted TONS of boxes of clothes and assisted many needy families with choosing 5 free items per family. These kids were able to see so many people who were in desperate situations, like one woman who’d lost everything in a fire the week before. Of course, SHE received more than 5 free items for her household. Our kids came home glowing because they felt like they were needed. I’m telling you, doing good is contagious! Unfortunately, Heaven’s Closet lost their lease so the next time our kids volunteered there was the LAST time. They helped pack up all the merchandise they’d previously put on the shelves and moved to a different charitable organization.
Last Saturday, the group was scheduled to work at a local food pantry but they were called at the last second and told that they couldn’t be used. I personally think the food pantry didn’t want to deal with a bunch of teenagers, which is sad. BUT, that didn’t deter “L”! She got on the ball immediately and called a local nursing home to ask if they could spend time with some of the elderly patients. Upon being given the okay, “L” quickly baked some cookies so they could all hand out to the “old folks”. Now, my daughter has been visiting nursing homes for many years and she’s learned to absolutely LOVE the old people. She shines when it comes to interacting with them and my shy girl, who normally only has 10 words a day to say, suddenly becomes very “chatty” with them! I LOVE that! I’ve always had a soft spot for the elderly, myselfJ It turns out that the group spent 4 hours at the nursing home, feeding them cookies and playing basketball with some of the residents! Who knew that they would be ABLE to play basketball? Lol Some of them were wheel chair bound but our kids still got them involved by throwing the ball back and forth. The old people absolutely LOVED it and can’t wait for the kids to come back to see them. I don’t know if any of you have experienced visiting an old folks home but if you haven’t, you definitely SHOULD. It will fill your heart with so much love! Some of these people have no visitors and nobody except the busy nurses to talk to. They light up when they see someone look them in the eye and just smile or ask them how their day is. It seems like they live to see the face of a child! If you’re lucky enough to develop a relationship with an older person, LISTEN to them. They have so much wisdom to share! Our kids are discovering this and can’t wait to get back there again this weekend. The plan is that ALL of the kids are going to bake and distribute their goodies to many more people. This is actually something my daughter does every weekend. I bake and send whatever I’ve made with Julia and her dad when they go visiting. They tell me that the old people get so excited when they see good food walk through their doors!. They don’t get to eat homemade goodies often, if ever. Usually what they’re fed is so bland and tasteless.
Usually when we think of a teenager, it’s not for a POSITIVE reason. I’ll admit that after raising 4 girls, I have one foot in the grave! Lol However, when they do something like THIS group of kids has done, I beam with pride. Yep! They’ve inspired this old mom to get off her butt and DO something. Now, I hope that YOU go out and do the same for someone else. If you don’t have time to volunteer, please make the time to perform a simple act of kindness. Look an old person or disabled person in the eye and smile. Acknowledge their existence. You’ll be surprised at how this makes YOU feel. I’ve realized what this group of kids are realizing now… that volunteering or just doing “good” makes me feel so much better than it does the person or group that I’m trying to help. Sometimes, it’s what the doctor ordered! Hope you all have a blessed and FANTASTIC day!