Have you ever observed children playing and interacting with one another? It is such a precious sight because they see no race or Socioeconomic level. They don’t care about the brand of your shoes, political affiliation, or vehicle brand. They simply see another child.
That childlike faith is something I strive for daily. One of the many things I love about The Human Impact is the opportunities to show up and engage with our friends experiencing homelessness in a hands-on manner, rather than from behind the scenes. Some of the sweetest moments I have seen or shared with our friends involved a child present. They break down barriers and bring immediate joy.
If you are open to or considering getting your child involved in volunteering, I want to encourage you to do it! As a mother of a 3-year-old, we bring our son to spend time with our friends anytime we can. We want him to grow up knowing we are all created in God’s image and loved unconditionally as his children.
You may be asking yourself a few questions or worried about risks, and I would love to share a few things with you to prepare your heart and ease your mind for this time:
Approach our friends exactly like you would anyone else you were meeting for the first time. How do you greet and visit with a new acquaintance or someone you just met? Asking how they are, what have they been up to, sharing smiles, fist bumps, and high-fives. In spending time with our friends through THI, you will always have team members with you who can help guide this time and answer any questions you may have.
Be aware of your surroundings. Like going into a grocery store or mall, be aware of who is around and anything that looks suspicious. Feel free to share any of those with our team, but also know that we do not expect anything out of the ordinary to happen. Our friends know us and trust us and are always happy to meet new people. That being said, we cannot predict exactly how our time will go.
Show up with an open heart. Let your children know, “We are going to meet some new friends and paint today or play kickball or decorate cookies" – whatever the activity may be. Feel free to share or adjust the level of knowledge you share based on the child’s age, but let them know that our friends live in a different area than we do or they don’t have a home right now and are staying in a shelter or living in a tent.
Ask questions. In a respectful and thoughtful manner of course, but ask and listen. Maybe you are curious if they have a pet, favorite color, where they grew up, favorite meal, etc. You may have more in common than you ever imagined. A volunteer came to an event recently and one of our friends eating at her table was someone she went to high school with.
Let Jesus shine through you. Enter this time with grace and love. There is no need to bring anything but yourself. We generally don’t take anything with us and don’t hand things out unless it is a special occasion. Our desire is to focus on the connection and relationship and take away the transactional component.
“All of us, at some time or other, need help. Whether we’re giving or receiving help, each one of us has something valuable to bring to this world. That’s one of the things that connects us as neighbors—in our own way, each one of us is a giver and a receiver.” -Mr. Rogers
Working with our friends who are experiencing homelessness is one of the best parts of my life, and I count it as a great privilege. I am thankful for a supportive husband who is always happy to help in any way needed. We knew early on in our pregnancy that we wanted our child to love and serve others well and further God’s kingdom. I cannot think of a better way to start that off than with this sweet time through THI.
Please join us and know that your time spent volunteering with your children will change the trajectory of their lives.