By Pam Kamrath
Parent’s Night Out
What makes you volunteer? Are you passionate about a cause, excited about a program, fulfilling service hours, or just need something new and different to do? Keep reading because I have a place you can volunteer while doing all of that and have fun too.
I call it volunteering with a “twist.” The twist comes because you come to meet a need or fulfill a requirement yet leave feeling fulfillment deep within your heart.
One Friday night a month you will find a group of children and volunteers gathered at St. Luke Ann Arbor for a night of fun for the children and respite for the parents. This night is dedicated to families who have children with special needs. This program is called: “Parent’s Night Out.”
On these nights parents can drop off their children for a night of free child care and respite for their souls. Volunteers are recruited and matched up with either an activity, a child who has special needs, or their sibling. This program is not just for the child who has special needs but for all the children in the family.
This would not be a night of rest for the parents if they could only bring one of their children to the program. This evening is for the entire family. Parents look forward to this evening as much as their children do. We have a night full of activities set up just for the kids including gym time, crafts, music, snack, and movie time.
I have often heard from the parents that their children are very disappointed if they cannot come because they enjoy the evening so much. The children have a night of fun while their mom and dad enjoy dinner out, shopping, a movie, or simply time to catch up and chat uninterrupted. This is a wonderful gift for any family.
But then again, these are not just any families. They have a life full of needs, commitments, struggles, and heartaches. Child care is expensive and hard to find.
An opportunity to bring their children, all of their children, to a safe environment where volunteers come because they want to help care for their children, and it’s free, is something hard to find. For these families it doesn’t get much better than this.
This evening is for the entire family. Parents look forward to this evening as much as their children do.
And here lies the twist in volunteering for this program that desperately needs volunteers to survive. Many come to help out because helping out feels good, they’re passionate about our cause, or we just needed the help. However, when you become involved in PNO you are immediately embraced not only by the families but the children as well.
For three whole hours you give them your undivided attention, which they crave. You learn about their needs and based on that make sure their night is safe and fun. You play with them and love them just the way they are.
They love you for it. And that love they feel for you is expressed in many ways. I have seen children walk in with their parents searching for their buddy.
They are excited to see them once again, excited for the night’s activities, and excited to be with someone dedicated to only them for the entire night. Their enthusiasm is contagious. And when someone loves you like that it doesn’t get any better.
Volunteering? Will you fulfill a need, get in your service hours, or just come because we need the help? Oh, it’s so much more. The twist is that you end up feeling like you have just been given much more than you could ever give out. It’s a wonderful feeling. Come and join us!
The twist is that you end up feeling like you have just been given much more than you could ever give out.
Training for our “Parent’s Night Out” – Our respite program training is scheduled one Saturday in September. Our focus will be on behaviors and interacting with individuals who have special needs. If you have never attended our training and plan on volunteering this year, I strongly encourage you to attend. It will help you immensely. If you have attended our training and want a refresher we welcome you as well. Please RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Our first respite night is scheduled to begin in early October!