Last night our small group headed down to the Renucci House at Spectrum Hospital here in Grand Rapids. The Renucci House is a place that families can stay if they have a loved one in the hospital for a long-term stay. It's free of charge for them and helps out people who are from out of town and just don't have the means to stay in a hotel for days at a time. It's an amazing facility and provides a little bit of comfort during what is an obviously traumatic time for so many families.
They offer dinner most nights (for free) to those staying at the house but look for volunteers from the community to bring that dinner in. We brought dinner down once last spring and loved doing it so much that we decided to go back last night. And hopefully, we'll make this trip many more times.
It's so simple. We brought glazed ham, home-made mac and cheese, pasta salad, rolls, jello, mashed potatoes, salad, pop, and dessert but that's not what makes it so simple. You get to talk to the people who are coming down to eat dinner while they fill their plates and they just spill out why they're there, what's going on, how they're coping, and what they hope for. We're total strangers to them and we're rushing around filling drinks, taking more ham out of the oven, or making sure our kids are all getting along, and they'll stand and talk to us while they eat because they need to get it out. Talk to one more person about the situation because, we all know it, as human beings when we're going through something horrendous it feels good to get it out; often to anyone who will listen. And it's amazing to me how just bringing hurting people something hot and home-made gives them even just a little bit of comfort.
I love going there too because Georgia can come; all the kids come from our small group....fourteen total. And they run around with each other, color, beg for more cookies, watch TV, help serve drinks, pass out candy canes, and play with the toys. But they're there and part of this service opportunity even if they all don't entirely get it. But it doesn't matter--kids become what they see--and I want my daughter to be a part of simple, tangible, helpful acts of kindness so that one day it's her idea to engage in them all on her own. Whether it's sitting with the kid at lunch that no one else wants to sit with, donating a toy that she loves to a toy drive, volunteering to work at a homeless shelter, or anything else that takes some of her time......I want her to think of doing things for other people who she doesn't know as second nature.
As parents we have control over developing that innateness in our children. Can they work on it as adults on their own? Of course. But I believe the impact on culture is so much more significant if we raise children who can't imagine not helping out others because it's just what's always been for them.
Serving dinner was really no big deal for us. It's so easy, it's fun to do it together as a group of friends, and it's only a few hours of our time.........but I want it to be part of a pattern that Georgia is always aware of and a part of. I just hope I can deliver when it comes to that part of my job as a parent.