Saturday, October 4, 2008

Volunteering as a family

Josh, Kara and Mihret at The Building for Kids children's museum in downtown Appleton during the 2007 Boo Bash, an indoor community Halloween party for kids. We volunteered through Appleton Fox Cities Kiwanis, a civic organization of which Kara's a member. Mihret, a.k.a. "Happy Feet," helped us run the beanbag toss.

Here's my latest column from The Post-Crescent (

September 29, 2008

Kara Patterson column: Volunteer work at different level now

At a recent church rummage sale, I came away with a unique 10-cent find. I'd never seen a book like it before.

It's a flat, hardback journal from Aid Association for Lutherans that helps families document the volunteer projects they complete.

There are spaces for photos and reflections on experiences, and pages for writing down "wish lists" of what to do next.

With our 20-month-old daughter, Mihret, there are limitations on what community service we can undertake as a family. But it's important to us that she's right there with us whenever it's safe and feasible.

Last fall, we stroller-walked Appleton's Memorial Park during the National Alliance on Mental Illness' Walk, a fundraising and awareness-raising event for the local affiliate, NAMI Fox Valley.
We stopped at rest stations along the way to give a bottle or change a diaper, and were one of the last teams to finish. But we felt good that we had stepped out as a family to support NAMI.
We also brought Mihret when we ran a beanbag toss game at The Building for Kids' Boo Bash during Halloween week with the Appleton Fox Cities Kiwanis Club.

Mihret dangled from my husband Josh's chest in a Baby Bjorn carrier in her penguin costume.
She was a good icebreaker, especially for the children who saw her and laughed, "Happy Feet!"
She made people smile and often her presence started conversations, especially with parents of other little ones.

The Boo Bash evening and the NAMI Walk are the first two photos that will go in our family volunteer journal.

Both events are coming around again, and we're looking forward to making more memories.
We're also excited for the time when, a few years from now, we can ask Mihret what's on her volunteer "wish list."

-Kara Patterson

Post-Crescent staff writer

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