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Archive for the ‘volunteer work’ Category

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Last year, around Lorenz0’s first birthday, a mom I’d met at the park and I set up a playroom area at the local library.

In winter or in bad weather it can be a bummer to have to stay inside the house the whole afternoon, or the whole day if you are an SAHM. It’s nice to invite other mom’s and kids over to your place but that means cleaning up before and after and it’s not always practical, particularly if you don’t know them very well.

We thought it would be nice to have a “neutral” place where the kids could play together and the moms could hang out. I’m sure moms out there in blogland agree on this one, having someone to talk to that you can relate to it’s very comforting.

The mom I met at the park is a teacher, but she didn’t know how to go about it. I told her I knew the Mayor and I could ask if he could give us a room. He sent me to talk to the librarian and she came up with the idea to have the playroom right above the library in a sort of loft.

At the beginning it was just a few moms, a couple times it was only me and Lorenzo, but little by little other moms with kids started joining and now we a have a big group that gets together every Monday afternoon to hang out, play together and have tea and snack.

It’s funny how things just kind of grow by themselves, it takes a small initial effort but once it’s rolling it just keeps going.

It’s the initial effort that makes the difference, I wonder how many moms in this town before us sat at the park and thought

“Wouldn’t it be nice to have a place we could go to where the kids could play together and the moms could chill and talk…”

It was the right time and the right place of course, still I think that if we want some things to happen we have to make them happen.

“Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.” J.F.K

How are you making a difference in your community?

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It all started around September last year when my Italian sister-in-law (devoted mother of two of the rowdiest nephews in the world) asked me if I could teach the boys some English. That way they could, if ever the opportunity arises, talk to their cousins in Canada and communicate with people that every now come to visit who might not speak Italian.

Every Friday afternoon we meet at 5pm for an English lesson at my place, right in my livigroom. At first it was only us, then a friend with two children started coming, another mom came with her little girl for a while, and we had our newest entry in December last year, Laura and her mom. Of course Lorenzo is a regular and sometimes Tony, my sister’s kid comes too.

We go over the days of the week, the months of the year, the colors, the numbers, some verbs, we read a story and we sing a song. Then we have a snack, the moms take turns to bring the snack, and later the children play together.

I started getting some English children’s books and one of the moms lent us hers. Claire had sent me a few for Lorenzo and we are using one of them to learn the ABC’s. The local libraries don’t have English books, and if they do they are far from where we live. So the idea of having a little library with English books  for children was born.

“The Little Library” because when we started out we had 4 books.

One thing led to another and I thought it would be nice to be able to teach English and read stories not only to the 7 children that come to the lesson on Friday, but also to children who can’t afford English lessons or don’t have the opportunity because their parents work or they don’t have the means to get around.

It’s still in the works but the idea is to take Lorenzo, a few books, some flashcards and a blanket and go to the park and have a little English lesson right there and then. For no other reason than to create community, offer a service, spend time outdoors and do something different.

I told Loris about it and he laughed. He always laughs at me but then he said it’s a good idea. He even offered to make me a little wooden wagon to put the books and educational materials inside. I’m very excited about this project especially because it’s something I can do with Lorenzo.

Oh and I discovered that there are some wonderful people who go around with their bookmobile and promote reading. Take a look at some of the stories. I liked the one of the man in Colombia who goes around with his two donkeys to brings books to people who live in remote areas.

My project will be a sort of bookmobile with storytelling combined. Here are some of our favorite books:

“The Curious Garden” by Peter Brown

“Our Dog” by Helen Oxenbury

“We’re Going On a Bear Hunt” by Michael Rosen and Helen Oxenbury

“The Very Hungry Caterpillar” by Eric Carle

“Toot and Puddle: Puddle’s ABC” by Holly Hobbie

If you have any book suggestion for our little collection let me know!

I’ll keep you updated! 

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When I first started night school three years ago I hoped it would allow me to meet people that worked in the social field and perhaps it would open doors for new experiences and opportunities.
Besides making friends with some of my classmates and going to a lot of conferences and seminars I got to meet and work with three different organizations that have been important in my professional life.

After-School Project for disadvanted children: I met a group of volunteers that work with families of low resources and disadvanted situations, who put together an after-school project to help the children with their homework and provide a safe environment where they can do sports and extra-curricular activities for free.

Foster Home: through a school project I was an intern for a week at a local foster home for minors that come from broken-down homes. Although the project itself was only a week long I kept in touch with them and go visit the girls every once in a while. When school is over I’m hoping to start a knitting class with them.

Italian Language Course for Foreign Women: this has been the most gratifying projects I’ve been involved in lately as well as the most challenging one. I met the lady in charge and offered to volunteer, I’ve actually never been involved in an educational program for adults before, I usually work with children and teenagers, so this has been a unique and learning experience for me as well.

Networking is so important, they say it’s not about who you know but knows you! And making personal contact with people from all walks of life only helps make one’s life richer.

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I know I’m doing it right when the children I used to take care of and have grown up come up to say hi and want to talk and tell me about their lives. I know I’m doing it right when the kids see me from far away and run to hug me and wave when they see me drive by. I know I’m doing it right when they remember me and somehow I contributed in making a difference in their lives. I know I’m doing it right when my children (they are my children, you know) tell me,

“Hey Alicia, should we take a selfie?” and I’m not into selfies, really I’m not but I’ll take a selfie with my children/teens any day.

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These are the moments that add value to my life, the moments that are important to me. These are the moments I cherish the most. These are the memories I’m forever taking with me.

“A hundred years from now it will not matter what my bank account was, the sort of house I lived in, or the kind of car I drove…but the world may be different because I was important in the life of a child.” Forest E. Witcraft

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2013 was a very busy year. I started school in September 2012 and ended in June 2013 and passed the year 🙂
I’m still studying, still have a year and a half to go and although I enjoy it a lot it’s not easy to do so many things at once.
I still work at the senior citizen’s home full time.
I’m no longer the supervisor of the kids project in my town but I still go whenever I have time to help and I organized the Christmas pageant this year (our first Christmas pageant at the After School project). I volunteer at another after school project in Bassano and also at a foster home for girls.

Visitors: Susi, Lani and Aaron came to visit and spend some time with us in August. My brother Juan and his fiance Nichole with her daughter also came to stay with us a couple days. This is of course and open invitation to all of you friends around the world to come and enjoy a real Italian vacation…

Trips: This year we didn’t get to go very far, we went to Torino twice to visit Loris’ grandparents and early in January we went to Marostica for the day.

Goals for the New Year: Take things easy, listen to more music, sleep more, drink less coffee, go see a circus show, write more blog posts, keep in touch with my friends. Smile more, laugh and play the guitar and finally learn to knit socks for Loris.

Summer Camp Crespano
Cristina and I organized the afternoon activities and the Summer Camp in Crespano (a town close to ours) for 4 weeks in July. It was a real adventure!

After School Project

Trip to Torino
Torino from up high

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Last summer created a FB page to post the photos of some the activities that take place at the after school project and other fun activities. I thought of sharing it with you all so you can be a part of it!
Make sure to check out the page! 🙂

https://www.facebook.com/pages/La-Voce-Dei-Bambini/385622094835915

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