Honoring a woman who made Grenada a true home

With our first official visit to the Dorothy Hopkin Centre for the Disabled this week, it was impossible to not think about the woman who brought it all together, and made it all happen: Dorothy Hopkin.

If you type Ms. Hopkin’s name into Google, you really don’t get a lot. In fact, Google thinks you’ve actually made a typo, and suggests you find someone else instead.

But that seems to be the kind of leader and innovator Ms. Hopkin was: working behind the scenes, and ensuring her actions spoke louder than she ever would.

Ms. Hopkin founded the home in 1963. Grenada was a much different island back then. In fact, it was still a British colony, more than a decade away from seeing independence.

But the need for a loving, caring home for residents who needed a little extra attention to their daily lives was greatly needed, and Ms. Hopkin looked to fill that void.

More than 50 years later, the Dorothy Hopkin Centre is one of the great pillars that lift Tempe and the surrounding neighborhoods in the parish. Each day, the people who staff the center not only work to make residents comfortable, but to also help each one grow every single day.

Ms. Hopkin passed away in 1995, but she would have to be excited to see how well the center — and its amazing residents — are doing 20 years later.

We are there every Wednesday, but all of us wish we could be there more often. When it’s time to go, you don’t want to leave. So thank goodness there’s always next week, and a chance to not only make a difference in the life of someone at the center, but for someone at the center to make a difference in yours.

Register today and join us for our next trip! Trust us, you’ll never want to miss a week going there again!


First day of school? Covered!

The Significant Others Organization volunteer group headed made its first official trip to Queen Elizabeth Home for Children this week, and the kids were very excited to see us!

It was the first day of school for most of them, so there already was plenty of homework — from math, to writing sentences, even a little Spanish thrown in just to keep everyone on their toes.

Although the rain almost limited everything indoors, the sun came out just in time during the last half hour, and we all were able to go outside, and play all kinds of games in and around the amazing pavilion on the campus. One of our volunteers headed straight to the bicycles, repair kit in hand, making sure each one was ridable and safe.

We make this trip every Monday, and will be doing it again next week. So if you’d like to join us, register here!

We provided 14 hours of volunteer service on this one trip, but we can help provide even more! We’d love for you to take part!

Here’s yet another chance to help kids!

Thanks to all the great people who have registered so far for volunteering, we’ve been able to get a handle on what kind of things many of you are looking for.

The most popular type of work, in fact, was that which involved other groups. So if you’re interested in seeing other areas where you could lend a volunteer hand, let’s start with a great group here in Grenada called Saving Brains.

The group was formed last year to not only help the area, but also to conduct a research study, partly sponsored by Grand Challenges Canada. It’s designed to show how positive discipline methods enhance children’s brain development using a program called Conscious Discipline.

The group hopes to share that message with families who have children up to 3 years old, in an effort to prevent what it describes as harsh child-rearing practices and family violence.

But they need your help!

Saving Brains is looking for a few different types of volunteers. The first is someone willing to ride the bus the same day each week. This person would help set up class, take part in class activities, interact with families, and take and print pictures, etc.

The bus leaves the Grand Anse campus at 8 a.m., and typically returns between 1 p.m. and 2 p.m.

Each day the bus travels to a different locations, so what a great way to see Grenada, and do something good at the same time!

This volunteer will be asked to commit to at least one semester, if possible. And volunteers on the bus are required to have an understanding of Conscious Discipline, either by attending 16 hours of training over eight weeks, or by watching eight videos that outline the course.

Saving Brains also is looking for fundraisers, people who are interested or have skills in networking, and even those interested in helping to develop and organize events to help increase funds. Hours and days for those are flexible.

And finally, Saving Brains could really use someone willing to devote an hour or two each day to do general administrative work, resourcing, helping with printing and laminating, etc. The hours would be flexible, and that volunteer can even work from home.

Interested? Reach out to Stephanie Holmes right now at steph.holmes@mac.com. And please let them know you heard about it the opportunity through the Significant Others Organization. They will appreciate any talent you’re willing to offer, and we appreciate you considering them!

Deep down inside, we’re all just people

This past week, we made our first rather unofficial trip to the Dorothy Hopkin Centre for the Disabled. For the veterans among us, they walked in and felt like they were right at home. But for those of us visiting for the first time, there was obviously some trepidation and nervousness.

I mean, we know how to act around other adults, and we even know how to act around kids. But how do you act around people with disabilities? How do you communicate? How do you make your time there fun for them? And more importantly, how do you open your mouth without feeling you just put your foot in it?

The answer was much simpler than we had realized. We weren’t spending time with the disabled — we were spending time with people. And that’s it.

In fact, the Illinois Department of Human Services shared some guidelines in how to overcome that trepidation, that uncomfortable feeling, of not knowing what to say or do. The primary step? Remember that when you interact with people with disabilities, they are people.

“There disability is just one of the many characteristics they have,” the officials said. “People with disabilities have the same needs we all do: first and foremost among them is to be treated with dignity and respect.”

When interacting with people with disabilities, the first thing you want to do is focus on their abilities, not their disabilities. And while they might do things in different ways in people without those particular disabilities, they can still achieve the same results.

The state officials go on to provide some general rules of etiquette that should help you through just about any situation, removing any fear you might have that comes with not knowing how to act, or what to say.

Treat everyone as you would like to be treated. Think of the person first, not their disability. Don’t shy away from people with disabilities — relax and be yourself.

Just because a person has a disability, they don’t necessarily need or want your assistance. Never help someone without asking first.

Avoid using labels when you speak. Always use “people first” language — saying things like “person who is disabled” rather than “disabled person.”

People with disabilities aren’t victims. When you talk to a person with a disability, don’t use pet names, like “honey.” It’s also disrespectful to pat people with disabilities on the head, or talk down to them as though they were children.

Sure, these guidelines might look intimidating at first, but they aren’t. Because it all goes back to one primary idea: people are people. By always keeping that in mind, and treating all people like people, you have absolutely nothing to worry about.

So please join us on our next trip to Dorothy Hopkin. The residents there are such wonderful people, and I don’t think any of us have smiled so much — and had so much fun — in such a short period of time. But the more the merrier, and it would be great if you could join us on our next trip!


Volunteer … and live to be 100!

Why do you volunteer? Or, probably foremost on your mind, why bother to volunteer?

There are many reasons, particularly — what else are you going to do while your student is studying and learning? Few of us can actually work while here in Grenada, and believe it or not, the amount of television shows and movies on Netflix are actually quite finite.

Allen Omoto, a psychology professor at the California school Claremont Graduate University, says most of the drivers affecting someone volunteering are more about the benefits to yourself, not just how it benefits other people.

In volunteering, someone gains understanding, as in the desire to learn new things and acquire knowledge. They also have enhanced esteem, which allows them to feel better about themselves and find greater stability in life. And, of course, there’s personal development, where you acquire new skills, test your capabilities, and stretch yourself.

But it’s not all about me, me, me. Omoto also says primary drivers for volunteering are about other people, too. Primarily, it gives you a sense of community, where you make the world — or your piece of it — better. And then there are humanitarian values, where serving and helping others, is important.

“The ones that get the higher rates of endorsement are the ‘other focused’ ones,” Omoto says, according to the book, “How to Live to 100.” “But it’s the ‘self-focused’ ones that predict length of service.”

People who don’t volunteer often tend to think they don’t measure up to those who do.

“They put them up on a pedestal,” says Mark Snyder, a psychologist with the University of Minnesota.

But no matter how much you volunteer (or even how little), you do measure up. And if you want to feel like you do measure up, the experts say you should volunteer more, not less.

“It’s clear that more is better, at least up (to) a point,” says Jane Allyn Piliavin, a retired sociologist from the University of Wisconsin. “The more consistently you do it, the better your psychology benefits.”

So what do you say? Ready to volunteer yet?

Time to Register

As we get ready to kick off the volunteering season here in Grenada, we want to make sure that you’re aware of upcoming opportunities you’re interested in!

By registering to volunteer, you share with us your interest in helping us with events, while also showing what you’re most anxious to do while you’re here.

We’ll be able to use this information to put together volunteer events, and know what might be more popular than others.

Volunteer opportunities are open to everyone, but we do ask that each person register separately.

This will not register you for any specific events, but it will make it much easier for you to register for those specific events once we get them going!

So what are you waiting for? Register right now!