Coming unstuck: Helping others is the best way

The other day, a teacher friend of mine was mourning the increasing number of children she works with who have problems with depression. Her solution? Community service.
“Kids need to do something meaningful for someone else rather than staying stuck inside themselves,” she says.
As it happens, the perfect opportunity for getting “unstuck” is upon us. National Family Volunteer Day is November 16. Organized in our community by AlbemarleKids.com and United Way Thomas Jefferson Area, this event is designed to encourage families to get involved and stay involved in volunteering.
“We have loads of great projects for families this year,” says AlbemarleKids.com managing editor Jennifer Bryerton.
Among that list of projects are number of facilities that provide services for seniors. “Our grandparents don’t live nearby,” says Bryerton, “so our kids don’t get to experience older people like we did as kids. This is a perfect opportunity to get that intergenerational interaction.”
Programs are set up to allow families to share a meal with older individuals, help out with gardening or holiday decorating at a retirement facility, take elderly residents for a ride to see Christmas lights, or visit with them for a game of chess.
The city has come up with a couple of stream clean-up projects at McIntire and Quarry Parks that are perfect for older kids who like to be outside and active. “This is also the kind of thing that kids can do every time they take a walk in the woods,” Bryerton comments. “Take a bag along and collect trash along the way.”
This year, not all projects are restricted to one Saturday in November. There are projects available throughout the holiday season for all ages, any family size (including aunts and uncles, cousins and grandchildren, even neighbors and school groups), and lots of different interests.
Those who want to get involved can check the AlbemarleKids.com website for organized projects and choose one that fits. (There are also suggestions for do-it-yourself, year-round volunteering listed on the site.) Once settled on a project, volunteers are asked to call Shaele Wood at United Way (972-1705) for details and to sign up. Wood will also be able to direct you if you have questions about what may be appropriate for your family.
Family Volunteer Day gives us the chance to show the kids that one of the best ways to nurture yourself is to nurture others.

Family Volunteer Day takes place November 16 and throughout the year. For information about projects, check  albemarlekids.com and call Shaele Wood at United Way Jefferson Area at 972-1705.