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Doing Good Together Newsletter )
Helping strengthen kids and communities through family volunteerism... April 2007
in this issue
  • Mentoring Made Easy
  • Have a Discussion about Relationships and Respect
  • Inspiration
  • One Family's Story
  • News From DGT

  • Mentoring can do good by enhancing a child's self-esteem, improving academic skills, and providing support for new behaviors and attitudes. Our family has been mentoring a young girl for seven years, and though I hope it's provided some stability in her otherwise chaotic life, I know for certain that it's made a difference in my own family. My 17-year-old son even wrote his college essay about the perspective and understanding he's gained from getting to know this little girl. If mentoring is something your family would enjoy, read on.

    Jenny Friedman, Executive Director

    Mentoring Made Easy

    Make a Difference... Mentoring can be formal or informal. For example, your family probably already goes to the zoo, bakes cookies and eats dinner together. How about including another child in your activities? Or, if you know a child in your neighborhood or faith group who would benefit from spending some time with you and your children, extend an invitation next time you head to the park. In contrast to this casual approach, there are programs that match adult mentors with children in need, or match a whole family as mentors. To find out if there's a program in your area, go to the State Mentoring Partnerships website and click on your state.

    Photo: State Mentoring Partnerships

    Have a Discussion about Relationships and Respect

    Talk About It ... An invaluable aspect of family service is the relationship your family builds with others. No matter what volunteer job you do, take time to discuss with your children the importance of respect – the consideration and appreciation of others. Here are some tips:

    • Model respect. Respect your children by paying attention to them and listening to what they have to say. Use the language, words and tone you expect your child to use with you.
    • Teach manners. Require “please” and “thank you” and other polite responses both when your child speaks to you and to others. Be specific about the behaviors you expect – such as holding the door for the person behind you or saying “pardon me” when you move past someone.
    • Have discussions. Ask your children what “respect” means and how s/he likes to be treated. Be firm about your own values. When difficult situations arise, decide together on a respectful way to resolve them.

    Learn About It ... Read John Marshall's George and Martha: One Fine Day (Houghton Mifflin, 1978) with your kids. All the George and Martha books involve themes of love and respect between friends, and many encourage forgiveness and patience as well. For other book suggestions, visit our Resource page.

    Photo: John Marshall's George and Martha: One Fine Day


    "Why did you do all this for me?" [Wilbur] asked. "I don't deserve it. I've never done anything for you."
    "You have been my friend," replied Charlotte.... "By helping you, perhaps I was trying to lift my life a trifle. Heaven knows, anyone's life can stand a little of that."

    --E.B. White, Charlotte's Web

    One Family's Story

    As sure as clockwork, Wanda McNallan has made the same stop every Tuesday after work for the last five years. With barely ever missing a day, she drives over to pick up the family's friend Kyle so he can spend the rest of the day with them—having dinner, going to the park, roller blading—until it's time to go home. Now 14, Kyle is near the age of the McNallan's two sons (they also have an 8-year-old daughter), but the most meaningful part of the week may be the time spent with father Jeffrey McNallan. A male role model and a healthy family relationship are exactly what Kyle's mother was hoping for when she first pursued mentoring for her oldest son.

    From Wanda's perspective, mentoring provided her family a way of reaching out that they all could do together. She saw her opportunity when she spotted (www.kinship.org) in her local Coon Rapids, Minn., newsletter. It wasn't exactly comfortable at first because the family treated Kyle like company. Now he's like family, and can't get away with anything the McNallans' own brood can't. Wanda plans on making her Tuesday drive for years to come, in hopes that Kyle will always feel that their home is a place he can go if he needs help, even if, as he approaches adulthood, he may not want to see them every week. It's been a commitment, she says, but at the same time she is proud that Kyle knows he will always have her family to count on.

    Read More Family Stories

    Photo: The McNallan Family

    News From DGT

    Jenny Friedman, executive director of Doing Good Together, along with two colleagues, presented “Enriching Service Learning through Family Involvement” at the National Service Learning Conference in Albuquerque, N.M., on March 30, 2007. We shared the model Doing Good Together has created, which builds partnerships between school, family and community to enrich service learning, increase academic achievement and create a culture of service. To learn more about the link between service learning and family service, contact us.

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