A friend of mine recently invited me to a weekend event for an organization called Kidsave. She described it as a very special event where they bring adults to spend a little time with children, who essentially have no family or stability in their lives.
The basic idea is to find mentors or host families to spend at least 2 days a month with older foster youth, 9–17. The youth at Kidsave are often open to being adopted and while Kidsave is working hard to find them a permanent home before they age out of the system, they ask the mentors to actively advocate on their behalf, provide emotional support, and serve as a safety net to keep the youth in school and on path towards a productive adulthood for a period of a year.
I went not with the idea of becoming a host or mentor (because my life situation doesn’t permit this at this time), but simply to volunteer for the event, which took place at a hair salon, Estetica, in Woodland Hills. I was hesitant, but I went anyway. My friend’s enthusiasm convinced me to give a few hours of my day for the opportunity to bring a little light to these children.
So Sunday, March 17, I showed up to the event. To say that it was a humbling experience is an understatement. While the children and young teens were getting their hair done, I began to help out a bit, carrying boxes and things like that. After that, I thought I was going to the volunteer orientation, but instead I stumbled into a presentation for the 15 or so potential hosts. Each one of the potential hosts told their own story, of what had brought them there. It reminded me of the expression “cada cabeza es un mundo” (rough translation: Every head is its own world). Everyone, of different ages and cultures and races, had their own moving story to tell of why they were there that Sunday.
If that’s all I had gone for, that would have been enough. However, the most special part of the “program” was about to begin.
There was food and games for everyone. While some ate, others played games. As a volunteer, I was sent to one of the booths. There, the children and young teens would come by, and with bows and arrows, shoot at targets for prizes. How could that be special? It was like a mini carnival. And yet before my very eyes, I saw magic. Truly, I saw it in both the children, but also in the potential hosts. I saw it in their eyes. On St. Patrick’s Day, something brought them together. I believe all the children and young teens made it to my booth. I believe all of them went away with green beads, and other beads of different colors. It wasn’t me that was supposed to have the interaction, and yet, my ability to see not simply those that came to the booth, and all the booths, and all around me, is where I saw the magic – between the potential hosts and the children. Every interaction was special. Some of it appeared to be cautious, though I would actually call it gentle.
In every conversation and interaction I had with everyone, or ones that I observed, with the children especially, I felt blessed. I should say I have never volunteered anywhere. And perhaps this is what happens all the time. But for me, I had never seen this. In particular, I saw an older brother hug his younger brother. I don’t think my life prepared me for that kind of expression of love. I was truly moved. I looked around and saw similar things happening everywhere. I saw a contagious enthusiasm everywhere.
After I left, I was motivated to write this. Perhaps it is possible for me to become a host and if not me, perhaps someone who reads this.
If you have 2 days per month to give to a child who has nobody and if you would like to learn more about Kidsave’s Weekend Miracles program, go to: http://youtu.be/ or contact Nancy Martinez at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.kidsave.org