“But Mommy, I want to help the homeless kids, too!” My then toddler had been watching my talented friends and I as we raised over $100,000 for the Homeless Children’s Education Fund over a decade by organizing and performing in galas.
Together, we decorated her empty diaper wipes box with glued on pictures of kids so she could collect donations. She waddled up to the adults in her life (including the “cookie lady” at the bakery of the local grocery store) and asked them to donate coins for homeless kids. My three-year-old was awarded the Winnie’s All-Star Award for being the youngest volunteer for the HCEF, and we listed her as a “The Littlest Sponsor” for raising $37.13 in the Taste of Broadway program.
Over the years as she has been growing up, I have found ways to involve my now 13-year-old daughter in my mission to empower and inspire the women and children of the world. When I formed the Global Sisterhood charity and became the CEO/editor in chief of In spiring Lives Magazine, it became so clear that the volunteering work she was being raised to participate in was instilling powerful values and ethics. I highly recommend volunteering with your children and have noticed these top four benefits for my daughter over the years. Because of our volunteer work together, I’ve seen her:
1. Find Confidence
It isn’t easy to raise a daughter to be a strong and confident young lady in a media-based age with photoshopped images and highlight reels of everyone’s life. On a very special Mother’s Day, Alyssa and I marched with the women of our Global Sisterhood Charity Partner Milagros Day Worldwide run by Dawn Diaz. Together with over a hundred women who had been through extremely difficult real-life situations, we marched across the Brooklyn Bridge in honor of all the women who had survived domestic violence. The Global Sisterhood had raised the money to send 25 women abuse survivors to a special Bootcamp Retreat through Milagros Day Worldwide. Alyssa stood on the stage to help me present the check to the crowd of healing women and their children, and she beamed with pride because we were able to help those who had been through so much.
2. Experience Empathy
I recall volunteering in a transitional homeless mother’s shelter doing head-to-toe makeovers for the ladies. The Global Sisterhood provided haircuts through Eillven Spa and thanks to our amazing Charity Partner Treasure House Fashions run by Sally Power, we were able to get the ladies new outfits, shoes, and accessories. While the adult volunteers were doing this, my daughter and my now former students at Robert Morris University played with the kids with donated toys from a drive we did at the university. After the women felt better, we gathered the families for family photographs. My daughter got to see real struggles and poverty first hand at a young age and knew instinctively that those children needed to play and have fun just like she did.
3. Express Talents
All children have gifts they can share. One of my daughter’s is the visual arts. She was the illustrator on one of my 13 books, Hopping Off on a Business Trip. This children’s book was written to help at bedtime when moms had to go away for a few days to work. In the story that I used to tell my own children, the kangaroo mom always came hopping back home to her kids when the job was done. After her talents had been realized on that project, Alyssa was invited to have an art piece hung in a gallery in New York City for a fundraiser for Orphans International Worldwide. She proudly created an image with a Maya Angelou quote to be sold to raise funds through Evan & Friends: Painting the World Brighter One Charity at a Time. The Global Sisterhood was a sponsor of the event run by the World Heritage Cultural Center, and the funds went to orphanages with children in need around the globe. The experience of using her talents for good was a profound one. She was able to make something of value that helped others, and once again she beamed with pride.
4. Appreciate Diversity
Through the Global Sisterhood’s humanitarian work abroad, Alyssa’s global perspective is broader than most other children’s. My daughter has been able to connect online with girls in South Africa at Leave No Girl Behind led by Haseena Patel, and she cared enough about their mission that she helped raise funds with me for their new leadership academy. She has cheered on the Super Ladies Soccer Champions in Ghana who call me the “Soccer Mom” because we donated dozens of pairs of shoes for the female athletes. Alyssa has a greater understanding of the plight of the girl students who are not expected to learn such as: the girls at the Zephaniah Free Education Center in Pakistan, the 80,000+ women that Dr. Meena has taught to read and write in Nepal through her Meena Didi Women Education Literacy and Skills Project, and the need for the new Global Sisterhood Entrepreneur Training in the schools and sewing centers in Tanzania. Through volunteering internationally online, my daughter’s world has become much smaller. Her eyes have been opened to gratitude for what she has and to an appreciation for giving.
The effects of volunteering or fundraising for good causes with your family can be extremely positive. Seek out opportunities to give back to others as your children grow up. Our daughters (and sons), along with those whom you help, will reap the benefits of volunteering for years to come!
Learn more about The Global Sisterhood at: GlobalSisterhoodOnline.org