|Doing Good Together Newsletter|
Jenny Friedman, Executive Director
Make a Difference... Begin a conversation in your family about an issue that matters - poverty, human rights, the environment, caring for the elderly. To spark discussion, you might:
These conversations can lead to thoughtful action for your family, whether it's writing a letter to your congressperson, cleaning along the river, or raising money for a local program that advocates for the homeless. Photo: www.medadvocates.org
Talk About It ... When you serve others, reflect on your family volunteer experience. This helps children to grapple with the range of emotions that can arise, plus learn about important social issues and apply what they've learned to future experiences. Here are ways to jump start those reflections - before, during and after your family's volunteer project.
"Many people have taken action, but if their state of being is not peaceful or happy, the actions they undertake only sow more troubles and anger and make the situation worse. So instead of saying, 'Don't just sit there; do something,' we should say the opposite, 'Don't just do something; sit there.'"
Thich Nhat Hanh
A lot of kids host lemonade stands, eager to make a little summertime spending money. But when four of the Macris children sat outdoors one hot Saturday in July selling cold drinks, it was for a different purpose. The family donated all their proceeds ($78) to United for Reading®, an organization that helps connect military parents and their children during long deployments. The parents are videotaped reading stories out loud, then DVDs of the readings-plus the book itself-are sent to their children.
Interestingly, these kinds of volunteer family "projects" aren't the norm for this Annapolis, Maryland, family of five children, ranging from 8-year-old John to baby Jesse. The Macris brood is simply too young and too large to take part in most typical family volunteer jobs. "I think it's wonderful when families spend time cooking at a homeless shelter," says their mother, Jenn. "But our children are still at ages where we'd be more of a hindrance than a help." Still, that doesn't mean Jenn and her husband, Jeff can't find ways to teach their children to reach out. They have discovered simple ideas for integrating service into their lives and teaching the lessons of compassion to young children. A few examples:
Finally, the Macris family reads the family story in the Doing Good Together newsletter together each month for added inspiration. "Hearing about how other families are making a difference has planted the seed for us," says Jenn. In turn, she hopes her simple solutions will show others with young children that you can indeed start small and still have a big effect in your world.
Photo: The Macris family
Many of you have written to say you like our newsletter and website not only because you get inspiration and practical ideas for serving others, but also because of the simple, uncluttered format. No advertising, just content. But that means we need to rely on you, our readers, for our funding. Once each year we ask you to help out. You can make your secure, tax-deductible online donation right now here. We can't do it without you. Please give what you can so we can continue ALL programs - in schools, faith groups and neighborhoods - that encourage families to make a difference in their communities. Thanks, and have a great summer!