By Laura Leigh
What Our Staff Loses Track Of–In a Good Way
You would be shocked to know how many times staff hear from our volunteers that they’re still in relationship with a Safe Families family from two, three, or five years ago. Behind the scenes, we know that Safe Families simply provides the spark that connects two families together, but we know that the relationship often continues to grow beyond an official hosting or family friendship. Staff lose track of who’s still in touch with whom because the friendship ceases to be “Safe Families” anymore–it’s just friendship.
In our opinion, these are the most beautiful friendships you’ll ever see–born out of a dark season in someone’s life, but grown up into a back and forth, give and take relationship where both sides benefit. Messy families with messy families. An extended family that never existed before Safe Families but that continues to encircle a parent as they often go on to be a “safe family” for someone else.
Highly requested among our volunteers and families was an event that could gather everyone together from past and present hosting & friendship pairings.
The first annual Reunion event finally took place at Honey Creek Church on Sunday, October 13. After having to reschedule this event twice, the original summer party theme got exchanged for pumpkins, leaves, and hot cocoa. Everyone sat around the fireplace and shared a meal together, thanks to the donation of fried chicken by Popeyes.
The Reunion’s activities included a fall-themed photo shoot, fishing for prizes, pumpkin bowling, and lawn games. Each kid got to bring home more than a few toys from our resource closets, thanks to many kids who have had birthday parties accepting donations to Safe Families in lieu of gifts for themselves.
While the activities brought smiles to the kids’ faces, it was really the warmth of lasting friendships that filled the room with good conversations, teasing, lots of hugs, and bouncing babies. At any moment in time, my own son, Sully, was being held and cuddled by a teenager, a volunteer, a parent, or a grandma. Isn’t that just what a good Family Reunion should feel like? To think, I’m not sure where my baby is, but I love and trust everyone in this room so I’m sure he’s fine.
Who’s Helping Whom?
While Jessica Frost was our event coordinator extraordinaire, it wasn’t just our volunteers who made the event run smoothly. Families who were previously in crisis invested time and energy to help set up, help with the games, and help clean up.
One mom even asked, “Can I bring the leftovers to the homeless in Tent City? I visit there every week with my church.”
You can see where I’m going with this…things coming full-circle. Parents who had previously needed the help of Safe Families were now helping Safe Families and helping others in their community.
That’s the power of strangers becoming family…of having friends who are like extended family when moms and dads need them most.