No, I’m not talking about the first lady, although we are ”BFF’s”. (She texted me before her big speech last week to say “I’m about to go on stage“! True, though I think it was probably just from hubby’s campaign. Anyway, I texted her back to say she was and looked amazing!)
I’m talking about my friend, Michelle Chase, founder of “Wee Volunteer” of Dallas, the fab organization that gets young children and families volunteering out in there communities. She is the featured “Mom Next Door” in this month’s Dallas Child Magazine – so cool!
Our mutual friend Adrienne brought us together a couple of years ago because she knew we had similar hearts and spirits, goals and visions, and she was right! It has been great to support one another along our entrepreneurial adventures, even while trying to balance family and life. It has been a blessing to watch “Wee Volunteers” grow, and I believe whole-heartedly in its mission of teaching young children that they can make a BIG difference in their communities and in the world, a mission Michelle is working whole-heartedly toward!
For Michelle, the idea began as a sort of alternative “Mommy and Me” activity option that she wanted to create for herself and her two young girls. They now have many of these volunteer projects under their belts, and are old hat at bold giving. My kids have not done as many, but they have done enough to now speak the “volunteer” lingo, to have an expanded worldview, sense of need vs. want, sense of empathy and responsibility to care for others, and I am so proud of that! Just last night Ellie (3), said at the dinner table, “I don’t need more ice cream, I want more ice cream.” (We have had this conversation, plus it makes more sense to her because she has delivered meals to elderly people who need the food, she has given books and clothes and school supplies to children who need them.)
Michelle’s vision is that other families will also choose “Wee Volunteer” as a regular family activity to put on their calendars in place of others, if necessary. Think of the crucial values and skills that your child learns by doing regular volunteer projects, or even just one! Not only that, but the projects are planned to be developmentally appropriate, to include “talking tips” for parents and kids to connect with one another, and to be fun – and you get to experience them together!
I am excited to be on board leading musical outreach projects, preparing “talking tips” for families at projects, and being part of the creative “team” for her next brain-child, the “Wee Volunteer” service suitcases, which will be out in stores soon. These suitcases will be sold as “alternative” birthday/ holiday/ rainy day gifts for children, guiding them through several crafts for giving back to local charities. We are also working on a “Citizens Who Care” Curriculum for pre-schools/ elementary schools to guide children in such endeavors and discussions, learning leadership and other important values and skills along the way, while truly making a difference in the lives of real people.
Michelle, you may be just a “real mom next door”, but you are a Super-Woman in my book, a true “Parent with Purpose“, making the world (and our kids) better one project at a time. Thank you for letting your light shine the way for the rest of us!
Here’s my theory: Teach your child how to give, and get a less demanding, materialistic, whiny kid in the long run. Teach your child how to give, and get a generous, kind-hearted person in return! It’s not just my theory, any child development expert will give the same advice, but I’m starting to see it play out in my family, and it’s pretty exciting.
GIVING BACK TOGETHER – The Top 10 reasons to volunteer with your kids:
10. Volunteering builds self-esteem. The best way to feel good about yourself is to help someone else.
9. Volunteering builds leadership skills. (Who will be in charge of making the lemonade? Who will collect the money?)
8. Volunteering teaches valuable skills and responsibility. (interacting politely with the “customer”, making change, creating a poster, sorting old clothes, etc.)
7. Volunteering teaches gratitude and perspective, helping to raise selfless children in a materialistic world. (Talk about the families that don’t have enough money to buy food or school supplies, and give back together.)
6. Volunteering gives kids a chance to practice kindness and generosity, values we want them to have. (Show them that the small things they can do really make a difference in someone’s life – watch your postman’s face light up when you give him the home-made cookies!)
5. Volunteering gives children power to act in the face of problems, to “be the change they wish to see in the world.” Gandhi (Learning about problems of poverty, sickness, and homelessness may be a new concept for kids. Give them a sense of control and empowerment by giving them the chance to respond!)
4. Volunteering broadens a child’s experience, giving them a sense of community and “neighbor” beyond their everyday life, even on a global basis.
3. Volunteering develops responsible citizens. (Tell them what good citizens they are when they are helping pick up litter, when they are conserving water and electricity.)
2. Volunteering is a great way to bond with your child, and show them how to be in the world.
1. Children are powerful – LET THEM BE.
”Wee Volunteer” is 100% donation based. Each project is funded by your donations and Michelle personally. DONATE at www.weevolunteer.org, and follow them on Facebook, “Wee Volunteer” on Facebook. Please help spread the word about this great new organization, and get your school groups involved.