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Strawberry pizza and butterflies with tissue paper and pipe cleaners
Little Hands, Little Feet, Big Hearts...
By Rupal Shah
As I wait in the kitchen of Harrington House, I think of all the tasks that I have to complete by the end of the week. I am deeply engrossed in my own thoughts, when suddenly I hear children's laughter and chatter accompanied by the commotion of rattling chairs at the table. My thoughts quickly fade away as the children loudly ask what they’re baking today.
Every first Wednesday of the month, I volunteer at Harrington House, The Home's therapeutic residential and special education program for children ages 5 to 13 in Jamaica Plain.
My fellow volunteer and I conduct a baking activity and make crafts with the children. I have been volunteering at The Home since the summer of 2008. My experiences with the children have been extraordinary and very rewarding. The children say they have learned from us — they have learned to make strawberry pizzas, pilgrim hats, and paper butterflies. But I think I have learned a whole lot more from them. I have learned that children find enjoyment in the little things in life like neon sprinkles on cookies, making soap bubbles while washing dishes, and giving high-fives! I have learned that children need attention, love, and nurture to thrive and grow into healthy, smart, and responsible adults. I have learned that life is not just about you as an individual but rather, life is about building healthy relationships and about your contributions to your surrounding communities. The children may have little hands and little feet, but they certainly have big hearts. It is remarkable to see the genuine appreciation that fills the kitchen after our baking and crafts activities. The sincere happiness that can be brought by baking a chocolate cake full of sprinkles or making a bird's nest full of colorful candy is very evident at the end of each volunteer session.
Volunteering at The Home is fun and allows me to escape "my world" for a few moments so I can experience the joys in life that simple things such as baking and making crafts can bring. I go there to help, to make any small difference that I can, yet I leave each time changed in ways that I didn't think possible! Each time I walk away from Harrington House, I count my blessings. I consider myself fortunate to have loving parents and siblings. Most of us take that for granted, but I am reminded each day that we should be very thankful for our loving families. Many children in this world may never get to experience the joy of living with their families because of difficult circumstances. At the same time, it is very refreshing to see that the children are still content with what little they have. My experiences at The Home have certainly shaped who I am and how I live my life each day. I continue to grow as these enriching experiences teach me new lessons each time.