By Suzanne LeRoy, JLM Member
I had the wonderful opportunity to volunteer on Sunday, 11/25/2012, at People Serving People. Annalee Habstritt’s transformative project for homeless children and adolescents involved the creation of a vision board with ages 5-10 in one group and age 11 and above in another. I had the privilege of working with fellow Junior League volunteers and the younger age group, eleven children bursting with energy, ideas and creativity. Even the youngest were able to complete a simple one page form with help and write their name and age, describe their favorite colors, TV shows, songs (artists Justin Bieber and Selena were a hit), and hobbies (basketball, cars, football, dancing, and playing house).
What was most inspiring were the goals each child hoped to realize (i.e. to be safe, to be kind, to be helpful; be a better reader; do better in math; go to school; become a firefighter and save lives; become a dancer, a ballerina, a basketball superstar, play soccer, be on TV, go to the circus, go to Mall of America, take long trips). Things children stated they were most proud of (answers referred to others i.e. my mom, my baby brother; or to themselves i.e. I am smart, I am kind, I have a normal life).
The children glued the completed form to their vision board and quickly surrounded it with cut out pictures from age-appropriate magazines, plastic buttons and stars, sequins, drawings made with colored markers, and a small polaroid picture that was taken of each child. Each board was then covered with decoupage for safekeeping.
While the craft project dried, the children released boundless energy in the second floor recreation room or they played games with the Junior League Volunteers. Most of the parents met their children at the end of the session and many expressed appreciation and support of their children’s efforts. Every effort was made by the Junior League Volunteers to have each child leave hearing positive words and encouragement.
Children, in even the most dire circumstances, are capable of understanding hope, optimism, and the power of possibility. Building children’s self-esteem through the magic of art, crafts and caring adults made it an inspirational and life-changing day for me. I am very grateful for the opportunities that I have as a member of the Junior League.