|Doing Good Together Newsletter|
Jenny Friedman, Executive Director
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
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 â€“ the consideration and appreciation of others. Here are some tips:
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."
--E.B. White, Charlotte's Web
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 themâ€”having dinner, going to the park, roller bladingâ€”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.
Photo: The McNallan Family
Jenny Friedman, executive director of Doing Good Together, along with two colleagues, presented â€œEnriching Service Learning through Family Involvementâ€ 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.