Doing Good Together December 2008 Newsletter

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Doing Good Together Newsletter )
Helping strengthen kids and communities through family volunteerism... December 2008
in this issue
  • Community Connections
  • Power in Neighborhood Numbers
  • Inspiration
  • Family Story~Getting a Jump on Helping
  • News From DGT
  • You'd be surprised how happy neighbors are to gather together around a good cause-sometimes they just need to be asked. One way to encourage families to get more involved is to pick issues that that they themselves have identified as needing attention in their own backyard. This "citizen centered" approach lets neighbors get to know one another - and teaches our children that service to others doesn't have to involve faraway people and places. It can be about making a positive difference right in their own community.

    Jenny Friedman, Executive Director

    Community Connections
    Neighborhood Watch

    Make a Difference...

    By organizing your neighborhood around critical issues, you and your family can build a network of connections while strengthening the sense of community for others. Look around and see what needs to be done. Ask others to join you. Here are some possibilities to think about:

  • Organize a regular neighborhood clean-up.
  • Start a neighborhood watch group.
  • Put together an annual block party or National Night Out event.
  • Start a neighborhood garden and share the bounty.
  • Develop a system to provide services for the elderly in your neighborhood, including transportation, yard care or putting up holiday decorations.
  • Organize a community festival.
  • Power in Neighborhood Numbers
    Saving Strawberry Farm by  Deborah Hopkinson

    Talk About It...

    Here are some steps your family can take to get your neighbors thinking about a common service project:

  • Talk about the value of community, and ask your children what they can accomplish with a group that they wouldn't be able to accomplish on their own.
  • Consider the strengths of your neighborhood-and also the areas of need.
  • Brainstorm some issues that your family (in cooperation with other families in the community) might tackle together - in preparation for a neighborhood meeting.
  • Call a meeting to discuss the issues and seek solutions. Be sure to take a positive approach, emphasizing the power of the community to make a real difference.
  • Begin taking the necessary steps to initiate meaningful change.

  • Learn About It...

    For inspiration, read Saving Strawberry Farm by Deborah Hopkinson, illustrated by Rachel Isadora (Greenwillow, 2006). When Davey learns that Miss Elsie is going to lose her farm to the bank, he is determined to help her, even though his own family, as well as the entire community, is struggling in the midst of the Great Depression. The story emphasizes the power of a close-knit community to accomplish great things, even with very few resources. (Ages 4-8.)

    Photo: Saving Strawberry Farm by Deborah Hopkinson


    We can begin by doing small things at the local level, like planting community gardens or looking out for our neighbors. That is how change takes place in living systems, not from above but from within, from many local actions occurring simultaneously.

    Grace Lee Boggs, Chinese-American Author, Feminist, Social Activist

    Family Story~Getting a Jump on Helping
    Jump a Thon Day

    Determined to make a difference after hearing a talk about family volunteerism, the Layton family of Payton, Utah, used their ingenuity to literally transform jumping into joy. This past November, the family devised a "Jump-a-thon" as a fun way to get neighborhood kids involved in the spirit of giving.

    First Emily and Todd Layton sat down with their children, Brenden (10), Bryce (8), Brooke (6) and Brinnley (4), to pick two organizations to receive the jump proceeds. Their main criteria: the organizations had to focus on helping kids. They chose the Utah Foster Care Foundation, which helps provide resources to newly placed foster children, and the Make a Child Smile Foundation, which connects people with chronically ill children in need of day-brightening little packages and letters. The family then advertised their event to neighborhood kids through their church, schools and word of mouth. All participating jumpers were requested to collect pledges before the big day.

    Jump-a-thon day dawned just after Thanksgiving. Anticipating a rainy start, Todd Layton rigged a tarp over their large backyard trampoline, which only contributed to the fun circus atmosphere. For 12 hours, starting at 7 a.m., 35 kids and three adults took turns in what became known as "the jumping cave." While waiting their turn, jumpers were given materials to make cards for "Make a Child Smile" children. The $566 collected through jump pledges was used to buy Christmas gifts and other needed items for Utah Foster Care children

    The day was filled with examples of sacrifice, determination, friendship, laughter, teamwork and community togetherness. For example, the Laytons got lunch donated from Domino's Pizza, and fixings for a BBQ dinner provided by Wal-Mart. Especially memorable for Emily Layton was a moment she shared with her 6-year-old daughter, Brooke. As Brooke was making a card for a 4-year-old with a severe heart defect, she paused for a few minutes as her eyes welled up with tears. Emily held Brooke on her lap and they talked about the big feelings they had inside for all the people they were helping that day.

    The Laytons hope their event will spark more giving and encourage other families to create opportunities for neighborhood-based service to others. "People want to give." Emily says. "They just need ways to be involved."

    Photo: The Layton family of Payton, Utah and neighborhood kids at their Jump-a-thon.

    News From DGT

    If you are a volunteer coordinator or manager at a nonprofit organization and are wondering how your organization might provide meaningful opportunities for families to serve the needs of your clients, we can help. You can make a positive difference for your organization while building a new generation of volunteers. Click here to learn more or contact us by phone (612.822.6502) or email.

    Quick Links...

    phone: 612-822-6502

    5141 16th Avenue South | Minneapolis | MN | 55417

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