The Saturday morning started off grey, rainy and cold. Despite the dreary weather, dozens of children began arriving, eagerly running to their favorite volunteers for the hugs they knew were awaiting them. Mothers of all ages appeared with babies in tow. As the number of families increased, the sun began to shine.
This once-a-month, unhurried day at the park, called “A Banquet for the Families”, is a special day for everyone involved. The children run and play. The delighted volunteers are grasped by the hand, led up slides and through monkey bars. Mothers, whose weeks are usually filled with challenges of survival, can now sit for the day, paint their nails, enjoy the warm sun and watch their children laugh. They make lunch together and share stories about their children.
And, as the day progresses, individual concerns and needs become known:
- A family worries about how to provide school supplies for their children.
- A grandmother discusses a serious infection that a doctor may have ignored.
- A mother murmurs about a child’s self-destructive behavior.
- Another mentions a struggle with substance abuse.
- Others express their fears of safety within the home.
And the list goes on…
Conversations and trust develop over these Saturdays. Relationships become genuine friendships. HOPE worldwide volunteers provide listening ears, smiles, words of comfort, and an unhurried presence. They hear when so often no one listens. They connect resources with needs; they connect families with professionals who can provide specific services. They follow up, because these families matter. They show up…with birthday cakes, school supplies, love and hugs…because these families are cherished friends.
“Coming together is a beginning;
keeping together is progress;
working together is success.”