03 March 2011

An evening at Catholic Charities...

On February 23rd, I had the privilege of working in the Family Room at Montgomery County's Catholic Charities office. The opportunity to do this was offered to me by an amazing woman that I work with at the after school program I coordinate. When she proposed this opportunity to me, I asked her to explain a little bit of what she does at Catholic Charities and what exactly is the Family Room. She explained to me that not only does she work at the after school program, but that she holds many titles for Catholic Charities. These include educating local school children about bullying, peer pressure, and substance abuse. A new position she has earned is director of the new Family Room. The Family Room is a resource for children and parents. This space allows for room for children to play along with space and resources for parents to take advantage of. The children have access to a multitude of toys and games, while the parents have access to a food pantry and supportive staff who provide many services to them.

From the time I entered the door until the moment I left, I had a blast! I arrived before any families arrived and was able to see and learn a lot about the space and Catholic Charities. Shortly after, the families began arriving. Since I had my crown and sash on, many of the children were staring at me. After the children settled in with the toys of their choice, I approached and asked if I could play too! The first response I received was, "YES!!!" Shortly after I sat down on the floor, which in a skirt and five inch heels is a challenge, I received my first question from a five year old.
"So what are you, some kind of princess?"
I explained that that is exactly what I am and that the blocks that she was playing with are to build my castle. So we built a castle! That stood for approximately 2 minutes until the dragon attacked it and knocked it down! Although a dragon attacked my castle, the children quickly began to warm up to me, and as soon as that happened, I had about 5 little ones attached to my hip.
The open house was Valentine's Day themed and the craft was creating beautiful Valentine cards. There were all different kinds of supplies for the children to use! I didn't participate in this activity as I was helping clean up the play area, however I did benefit from the craft! I received not one, but five Valentine's cards from one boy, within the span of about 10 minutes! Every time I looked up from the toys on the floor, I was being handed another Valentine! I thanked him each time he gave me one and I still have them all!
After the craft was finished, play-time resumed. This time, I was seated at a very small table in a very small seat, again a challenge in heels and a skirt. This section of the play area was set up like a kitchen with plastic food, a sink, and cupboards. When I sat down, there was only one cup for tea in front of me, however, within five minutes I was being served everything from "soup" to "steak" and even "melted icecream," which was the chef's specialty.
I spent about two hours in the Family Room and was able to learn so much from the experience. Catholic Charities is such an amazing organization that is working toward improving the lives of the members of my community. We are fortunate to have such a resource in available to those who are interested in using it. I would also like to point out what an interesting, vibrant, and enthusiastic group of children I had the pleasure of meeting. They were all very polite and kind. I hope to have the opportunity to build another castle with them! Finally I would like to express the sense of awe I feel when I think about the work that the employees in the organization put in to make these resources a success. They are very passionate and caring for those that they work with and always put 150% into everything they do. Their goals are to work toward improving the quality of life for the members of my community and I can't thank them enough for all of their hard work! It was truly an honor to have been asked to come and support the organization!

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