Creating Fondness For Home By Getting Away

For the first time this term, we had a chance to take our friends at the Dorothy Hopkin Centre for the Disabled out of their house, and down the road to the soccer pitch. We’ve talked about doing it a number of times, but Mother Nature seems to get in the way.
 
Last week, however, we weren’t going to let that happen. Even with the skies threatening, and a little bit of Seattle-like rain falling upon the shoulders of the volunteers while we got the residents ready.
 
Every week we visit Dorothy Hopkin, we meet the residents in this great activity room downstairs. There’s a beautiful wood table, and plenty of room for Katie, Mary, Michael, Rafael, and others. Sometimes, we’ll move that table out of the way so we can play Hot Potato, or Duck Duck Goose. Games they look forward to, with the help of Ted’s iPod Mini.
 
But our Dorothy Hopkin friends really never get a chance to leave the house, let alone that room. Yes, it’s their home (and it’s a great home at that), but even a wonderful home gets better when you spend some time away from it.
 
With that in mind, we gathered everyone up, made sure they had their sneakers on, and rolled down to the pitch (knowing that we would have to roll back up the hill later). It was hot, we had to find shade a couple times, but I don’t think any of the volunteers who helped out last week can get how big the smiles were out of their minds.
 
Someone told me recently that it was hard for them to do Dorothy Hopkin because we leave first thing in the morning. And we do … we gather Wednesdays at 9:45 a.m., leave at 10, and then head back to campus at lunchtime.
 
And I know what that person means. I hate waking up in the mornings. I want to get my sleep, especially since I work late, and spend half the night on the phone with other parts of the world where it’s not so late.
 
But you know what, I’ve never woke up on a Wednesday morning and thought, “Hmmm, I think I’m going to take a week off.” I mean, I could — and there would be nothing wrong with it, as we all should volunteer when we want to (and take breaks when we want to). But then I think about Katie. I think about Mary. I think about Michael, Rafael, and the others … they love seeing us each week. They love spending time with all of us.
 
And we see it every single time we arrive, and see how big their smiles get. If that’s not motivation to do something, I don’t know what is.
 
Of course, this is something you have to see for yourself. And you can do that this week, this Wednesday …
 
We meet in front of Charter Hall at 9:45 a.m., and we’ll be back at lunchtime.
 
Whether you join us each week, maybe joined us a few times, or this is your first trip — we would love to have you.
 
Register here … and will see you on Wednesday with your weekly trip to Dorothy Hopkin!
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Thanksgiving, Your Student … And Volunteering!

It might be another month before Thanksgiving in the United States, but as we’re sure you know, Thanksgiving is Monday here in Grenada.

The holiday is typically celebrated on Oct. 25. But this year, that day is on a Sunday, so Thanksgiving moves to Oct. 26. While American Thanksgiving is more to do with early settlers getting along with Native Americans, the Grenadian Thanksgiving is actually marking the anniversary of the 1983 U.S. invasion of Grenada.

It’s not clear how much of the island actually celebrates the holiday, but many stores will be closed or have reduced hours. And there will be no classes at SGU.

But those wonderful kids at Queen Elizabeth Home for Children will still be at the home, and they’re looking forward to getting a visit from our great group of volunteers.

Of course we know, this is a rare day off to spend with our students. And we’re with you. But this also is a chance to show your student what we all do while they’re in class. So why not plan to come to QEH … and bring your student with you? 

That’s right. Monday is “Bring Your Student” day. We meet in front of Charter Hall at 2:45 p.m., with the bus leaving at 3 p.m. And we head back from Tempe at 5 p.m., meaning that your student will only lose a little studying time — and still have a chance to do something nice.

Because we have only a small bus that takes us, registration is important. If we have more than the bus can fill (which is us being very optimistic), we will have to arrange for additional transportation. But we need to know that in advance, so please register (both you and your student!)

And make some time to spend with the kids at QEH on Thanksgiving. You wouldn’t want to be alone on the holiday either, would you?

Sharing Christmas With Everyone … And We Mean Everyone

The trees. The carols. Maybe not quite the snow.

No matter where you are in the world, someone somewhere is celebrating Christmas. They are sharing presents, song and cheer.

As children, we remember sitting on the lap of the fat bearded man wearing the funny red clothes. We told him everything we wanted on Christmas morning, and then barely slept the rest of the month, hoping when he came down the chimney, he’d have those popular toys in tow.

Sadly, there are many kids who not only never get these presents, but don’t even have a chance to ask. Imagine growing up with people rarely asking you what you wanted for Christmas.

That is life in an orphanage, unfortunately. And one the Significant Others Organization wants to change this year at Queen Elizabeth Home for Children.

We are working closely with Girl Scout Troop 22141 located in the small Pennsylvania town of Johnsonburg. Why this remote place? Because it’s where one of our volunteer co-coordinators grew up, and his sister is a Girl Scout troop leader there.

The Scouts will be busy making ornaments next week that will go on an angel tree, graciously hosted by a local business. Each ornament will have the first name of a child here in Grenada, his or her age, and three gifts they would like to receive.

Generous people in and around Johnsonburg will then take an ornament, buy one of the three gifts, and either bring it back to the store, or call to have a Girl Scout come pick it up.

Once toys are collected, the Scouts will package it all up and ship it right here to Grenada, just in time for distribution at the beginning of December (yes, Christmas comes early here!)

We are so grateful to Girl Scout Troop 22141 and the local business, Jundzillo’s Yarn and Gifts. We will promote the toy drive in Pennsylvania, and hope for a great turnout.

But we still need your help! 

This coming Monday, we will put together wish lists for each and every one of the kids. Because we don’t want them all asking for the same thing (and being influenced by others), we need to take each one aside separately, and try to get their three gift requests in a short period of time.

And we still need volunteers to help the kids with homework and to spend time with them, which is part of our usual Monday trip.

So even if you have not participated in a trip to Queen Elizabeth Home before, this could be a great time to start! You can volunteer to help with homework and play, or to help build wish lists. Either way, we could really use your help this coming Monday!

We meet in front of Charter Hall at 2:45 p.m., with the bus leaving at 3. We might stay a tad bit later this week to ensure we get all the wish lists, so we’ll likely be heading back around 5:15 or so from Tempe.

Would you like to help us? We can certainly use it! Register for Monday’s trip right here, and you can help make a wonderful Christmas for the great kids at QEH!

Volunteering On Your Own?

While we have been putting together some great volunteer opportunities through the SOO, we know that these aren’t the only way SOs are volunteering.

And we want to know what’s been keeping you busy!

Why? Primarily because we want to ensure that you’re getting the appropriate recognition for your work. Second, because this allows us to keep a better track of the time SOs are putting into volunteering, even if they are not through events we’re organizing. This is information that can help possibly earmark more funding for future SO volunteer projects, or the group itself.

So if you’ve been volunteering, and you plan to keep doing it, please let us know! Just visit this form, and fill it out whenever you’re ready to share your great volunteering experiences with us.

And keep on volunteering!

Every Volunteer Hour Counts

One of the many things that make the Significant Others Organization a great organization is the chance to give something back to this great island of Grenada that we call home for a good part of the year.

SGU has been great in working with our organization, and even supplied us with an additional bus so that we can make our weekly trip to Dorothy Hopkin Centre once again.

But in order for us to keep that bus going this term (and have it available for future terms), we really need your help!

Each Wednesday morning, we visit the wonderful residents at Dorothy Hopkin — men, women and children who don’t really get a lot of outside visitors. And while we can get a good group of people to play with children or even walk dogs, we want our weekly trips to DH to be just as special and just as important.

The volunteers who have made at least one trip to DH so far this year have been wonderful, and if you are one of those people, then you know how rewarding of a trip it is.

And really, it takes just a couple hours out of your day. We meet in front of Charter Hall at 9:45 a.m., with the bus leaving at 10. We get there around 10:30, and stay until lunchtime. We’re then back just in time to enjoy some great pizza at Glover’s, or to make a relaxing trip over to Sugar Shack.

So far we’ve logged 28 hours of volunteer time at DH in three weeks. That is great, but we really want to make it more.

Will you take a little time this Wednesday and join us?

If so, let us know! You can register here.

Every hour we give to Dorothy Hopkin Centre matters — and we need you to help provide as many hours of fellowship and fun with these wonderful people as possible.

Can we count on you this week?

Dogs, Beach, Volunteering … A Perfect Combination

Journalist Jon Katz once shared that “animals have come to mean so much in our lives. We live in a fragmented and disconnected culture. Politics are ugly, religion is struggling, technology is stressful and the economy is unfortunate.

“What’s one thing that we have in our lives that we can depend on? A dog or a cat loving us unconditionally, every day, very faithfully.”

Some of us came with this unconditional love to Grenada, while others said goodbye — either temporarily or permanently. But either way, there is never a limit to the amount of love we can return to a dog, and that’s why we’re excited to launch this term’s first trip to the Grenada SPCA.

There, homeless dogs who bark and cry for love will get it from a great group of volunteers who will show up, give them a good petting, and then give them a chance to explore … on the beach.

That’s right, beginning Friday, Sept. 25, we’re taking a group into town to spend time with dogs who would love nothing better than to have volunteers spend time with them.

We’re meeting in front of Charter Hall at 10:45, leaving at 11, and expect to start heading back at 1 p.m.

The plan is to do this every other Friday — but if this trip is popular enough, we’ll consider making it an every week thing.

So want to join us? Let us know right now by registering to come. This lets us know how many people we need to find rides for. And speaking of rides, if you have a vehicle and you don’t mind being a driver, email us right now at so.sgu.volunteer@gmail.com and let us know how many additional people you can take with you.

The only thing you need to bring is a dollar or two to chip in for gas (if you’re not a driver), and enough energy to give a dog a couple great hours on the beach.

Get it on your calendar, get registered, and we’ll see you on Sept. 25!

It’s time for Limes to kick off!

Sept. 15 is a big day for those looking forward to helping out with the Limes After School Program!

The program, founded by Ann Hopkins to help keep kids out of trouble after school, will start Tuesday, and run through Thursday each week from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m.

Volunteers typically meet at the Rubis gas station at 2:45 p.m. each day, to help with arts and crafts, sports, reading, schoolwork and more.

Limes also will kick off its new term with a beach party at Grand Anse Beach Sept. 19 beginning at 2 p.m.

Want to participate? Please pre-register!

You can register for Limes by clicking here. And if you’d like to let the organizers know you’re coming to Grand Anse Beach next week, you can register here.

Limes coordinators for this term are Meghan Jacobsen and Merhawit Girmay.