Every parent I talk to undeniably wants the same thing for their kids: to be good, caring people.
The conversation is usually followed by these sentiments: I’m so busy with work/play/shuttling kids around and although giving back is important to me, how do I pass that along to my kids without feeling like I’m forcing it on them? How do I make them really understand how lucky they are and actually make them WANT to give? And maybe even make it something they’re pushing ME to do, so we all make it a priority as a family?
This was the same problem Marin mom Kala Shah conveyed to me when we met four years ago at a LinkedIn mixer. Over lunch, we discussed how to make it easy for kids (and parents) to take action and voila — Go Inspire Go’s Community Heroes club was born. Since then, we’ve created an inspiring, innovative and fun program that entertains, educates and empowers kids to care, share and to discover and use their superhero power(s) to help others. And it’s working!
When you put storytelling, fun and conversation into the mix, lots of folks feel like they have permission to let go and join the fun. The proof is in the action.
We’re now in four Marin schools and are working to create an open framework toolkit to bring this impactful program to a wider audience.
The hundreds of Community Heroes kids who have participated in the club inspired Kala and other parents to create an annual supersized event in 2014 called the “Day of Giving.” I wish I could bottle up the fun, magic and buzz from our 3rd annual Day of Giving this past weekend, which was the biggest to date.
Even though I am a professional communicator, it’s hard for me to convey in words the fun, magic and joy we witnessed, so we’ll show you in pictures… and a video (stay tuned):
My eyes welled up, chills ran up my spine and my smile stretched wide as I witnessed 250 kids and parents partake in nine service projects over four hours on the morning of Sunday, March 6. After an energizing Zumba session led by instructor Rachel Hubbard, Kala and I kicked off the event with a quick superhero powwow that outlined the day’s super service-oriented activities:
- Assembling more than 150 care kits for Center for Domestic Peace, Homeward Bound of Marin, San Rafael Downtown Streets Team
- Creating 92 superhero capes for UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospitals of San Francisco and Oakland
- Preparing gourmet meals with cupcakes and cards for nine families at Homeward Bound of Marin’s Family Emergency Shelter
- Stocking five classrooms with school supplies, games and keychains for foster kid students at Timothy Murphy School for Boys
- Building four ocean cleanup boxes with All One Ocean
- Crafting 100 tissue flowers and delivering them to seniors at AlmaVia retirement home, who were also interviewed by students about their lives
- Making 20 good luck gnomes for Lake County fire victim families
- Restoring 1/4 acres of wetland at McInnis Park by removing invasive, non-native plants, in cooperation with Marin County Parks — muddy and physical work!
- Raising awareness about endangered animals through a Vallecito-student inspired art show that also brought in close to $80 to benefit WildCare
- Sharing stories at our Go Inspire Go Inspiration Station and learning about Canal Alliance‘s “My Immigration Story” project
One of my favorite quotes is from the late Maya Angelou: “When you learn, teach. When you get give.” I want to take it a step further and say, “When you give, you get so much more.”
A huge unexpected thing I witnessed was how much the parents needed this.
I was surprised to see some parents came to volunteer without their children.
Another parent pulled me aside and told me, “Our kids need this program so much. I don’t know how to get my son to care about something other than himself. He’s always on the computer.” The parent also admitted while he was grateful for his current life/situation, there were times when he was in the shoes of the folks our kids served during the Day of Giving.
“Sometimes me and my family were a paycheck away from being homeless,” he explained, teary-eyed. “There’s been times when the fridge was empty and I didn’t know how I was going to get food for my family.”
This fun project/program continues to be food for the soul for me, Kala and the community that finds the heroes within themselves to give back.
Perhaps we should call next year’s event the “Day of Getting”?
1. Like our Facebook page and follow us @GoInspireGo
2. Check out our Day of Giving photo album and if you were there, post your own pics by tagging #ComHeroes #DayofGiving
3. If you believe in our mission, please consider donating. We are volunteer-run and have a dream to expand our work. Check out our website to learn more about what we do. Every dollar counts — thank you!
What can you do?
Onward and upward,