Disclosure: This is my annual please-consider-volunteering-with-our-children post:
I get kids. And kids get me. Even as a teenager, the little ones flocked to me. Why? Because I feed off of their enthusiasm and their trust and their need. And because I remember all the stages: eager-to-please child, awkward middle-schooler, rebellious high-schooler. I can put myself back into any of those phases in a split second.
There is no greater gift than to be needed by a child. They look to us for advice, support and love. And when the babies looking up to you aren’t your own — well, the gift is even more precious.
Today, at our annual Girl Scout Milk & Cookies with the Mayor event, I was besieged by little girls asking if they could “help.”
This is the magical age, parents, when kids WANT to be given grown-up assignments or chores. I had little girls tripping over themselves to carry plates, take out trash and set up dishware. They want to do good. They want to feel responsible. They want to feel like they matter.
To be involved in their lives at this stage — it’s a gift. Seize it. Make the most of it. Because this is when we will have the most influence on their lives.
Today, I watched little girls make cards for another little girl who is critically ill in the hospital. I watched them listen with rapt attention as a former police chief and current chief of staff for the mayor told them how they — even at their young ages — can make a difference at their schools and in their communities.
A lot of you already volunteer — at schools, churches, Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts, sports teams, etc… Thank you.
If you don’t — please consider the opportunity before you. These little people are our future. What we teach them matters. And they do actually listen to us.
Yeah, I know. It takes time and hey — who has time? Well, actually, we all do. Or, rather, we all should, especially when it comes to caring for and teaching our children.
You say you’re too busy caring for your own family. Please consider that there are a lot of kids out there who don’t live in the kind of family that you do. They don’t have a parent or parents like you. We send them off to school and expect our teachers to fill that role. Our teachers cannot be a parent to every child who needs them to be one. That’s where we come in.
These children need you. They want you. And if you let them in and lead them … well, these are the wee ones who will prove to be the most loyal and determined bunch of kids you’ve ever encountered.
As a reporter, what I’ve noticed over the years is this: The people you would think to be the most cynical or hardened — police officers, judges, journalists or attorneys — are the ones who are most eager to get out in the community and work with kids.
That’s because despite all of the bad things we see, we’re still just a bunch of idealists. We know better than anyone that there is only a small and fleeting period during which you can effect change.
So yeah, that’s great if you enroll your kids in Scouts or take them to church or whatever. But it takes a multitude of adults to help just one child.
So, please. Get out there. Volunteer. Lead. You have more to offer than you can possibly ever know.