This post was initially going to simply be about our lunch today. Leah left work early and drove the distance up to where I work in Alpharetta, where we had lunch at a Chinese restaurant down the road. But then I actually took some photos tonight @ the regular Wednesday night StandUp for Kids Outreach Center. Leah volunteers there every Wednesday night, while I only volunteer about every other Wednesday. It’s five hours where the kids come in, and we give them food, supplies, help with documentation, education – whatever is missing… I’ve posted it before, but for the new people who don’t know about the organization – Click here for a description/summary.
Tonights’ dinner was provided by a church group, one of which is also a regular StandUp for Kids volunteer. Although StandUp is not a faith based organization, every month there are several church groups that provide the dinners, along with the occasional restaurant donation.
These photos of the kids and the volunteers are blurred because we’re not allowed to show their identifiable faces. The center is a ‘safe’ place and unfortunately, there may be people out there looking for these kids – people who may or may not mean to do them harm.
Whereas just a few months ago things were generally quite chaotic – the leadership has implemented a good structured schedule for the night with activities and other things that keep the kids focused, and more or less out of trouble while they’re in the center. Tonight they were making collages of things that ‘represent them, or how they feel, or some other meaning of themselves’.
For reasons too long to write, every Wednesday volunteers haul the donated clothes and supplies from out of the trunks of their cars where they are stored and bring them into the conference room where they are divided up into clothing, hygiene and food packs to hand out to the kids when the night is over and they have to go back to wherever they came from.
Tonight was Becca’s birthday. She’s the Director of the Atlanta Chapter (I think that’s her title, but either way, she’s the one who’s in charge and arguably the most dedicated and has been for years and years when many other volunteers long ago left.)
At the end of the night after all the kids have left, we meet and talk to update each other on the goings on of each kid, things to work on, and areas we need to follow up on next week. Working with these kids is not that same feel good feeling you may get from a one time volunteer “project”. Once-a-week-volunteer-social-work is closer to the truth and the payoff is honestly, rarely there. I’m not sure if you could really pry an answer from any of the hardcore volunteers that would possibly convince anyone on the outside to logically commit to this on the level that they have. And while it’s easy to simply say that they are, ‘better people’ – it’s not a real answer to why we/ourselves are not as committed or feel only half as empathetic as these volunteers. Obviously I have no answers and even fewer good questions. I count Leah in that group of committed volunteers who operate for reasons beyond simple logic. However, it must clearly and easily be noted that there are very few males in this group – as you can see from the photo above.