Tuesday, May 28, 2013

The Enduring Lesson of Caring for the Children who Assemble Meal Packets

Notes from Margaret Gorman

The children and youth of the Thomas Jefferson Memorial Church, Unitarian Universalist in Charlottesville (TJMC UU), and the children of Children's Garden Preschool in Earlysville, Virginia have now assembled meal packets for three years. The director of Children's Garden, Maria Brown, and I (director of the meal packet project at the church) recently had an email discussion of the impact this project has on our children. We agree that while the goal is nutritional support for the caregivers and patients or outpatients at the University of Virginia Medical Center, the effect on our children and youth is profound. What follows comes from our exchange.

I wrote to Maria:
"For me it is very rewarding to watch the children and youth assemble meal packets again and again. They come into the Sunday school room, look at the stacks of food and supplies, and are eager to get to work.  They say things like, 'This is fun,' and can teach new participants how to make the meals and why we do this. I like the way they 'own' this service project and how they understand they truly help people with it. My hope is this repeated act of service helps lay a foundation for a life of caring and giving."
I then asked:
"Now that your children have made meal packets for three years, do you see any carry-over for them? Do the older children (four year-olds) remember making meals before?... The meals are beautiful and I just LOVE the way you used envelopes for the cards! If I were a child, this would mean that my message is really important. "
Maria replied:
"The children who have done this project in the past DO remember doing it from previous years, and I have two girls who even helped explain what the project is to the children who are new this year! They do take ownership, and know which item of food was  sent in by their parents, and in some cases, helped pick out the item they were bringing in! I don't know if you have the ability to do the same with your younger children, having their families sign up to bring in specific foods, in whatever quantity will work for your situation, but I found that it really did make an impression on my children."
Maria continued:
"The way I did it, with my preschoolers, was to lay out all the food, grouped by meals (dinner items), and then snacks, and each child assembled one packet, choosing food from each "group", such as either oatmeal or cereal plus either an apple or berry bar for the breakfast, etc. That way, they had some choice; they had ownership of a bag.  I also had each child help 'sign' all cards, so the cards received by  recipients  this year have all the children's names on it. I want recipients  to know that all of us care about them and we are thinking about them. This year the children signed by putting their thumbprint on the card in the color ink of their choosing... then  I made their print into a flower.  At the top of the card it said, 'Made with Love by The Children's Garden'.  I hope this helps!  We will do this project again next year, and hopefully for many years to come."
Final Comments:

Thanks to Maria Brown and Children's Garden for the 16 meal packets for 2013, and thanks to the continuing support of the Thomas Jefferson Memorial Church Unitarian Universalist for the religious education meal packet project.  In this month of  May the sixth graders put together 156 meals.

I am looking forward to using some of Maria's tips when our youngest children make meals this summer. If you, our reader, want to know more about assembling meal packets, look at this link to the IHS Food Program.  Please contact me with your questions and ideas. Just send a note to the IHS e-mail, and it will be transferred to my attention very shortly.

Margaret Gorman
IHS Food Packet Coordinator

Friday, May 10, 2013

May Start Gets a Boost with Junior League of Charlottesville (JLC) Grant

Infant Car Seat Program a Little Closer to this Year's Goal

Junior League of Charlottesville Logo IHS was selected as a recipient of a Spring 2013 Community Grant from the Junior League of Charlottesville (JLC) in the amount of $750.00 to support our Baby Fund which is dedicated to indigent UVA Medical Center pediatric patients needs.  Specifically, these funds will be used to purchase infant car seats.

Hillary Dack, the 2012-2013 JLC Vice Chair, said in her letter to IHS, "We received a large number of excellent grant applications for this funding cycle, but your outstanding dedications to strengthening our community through the organization's efforts was evident through your application. We are proud to support your vital work in our community."

The JLC Community Celebration to highlight the Junior League's partner agencies this year was hosted on May 1, 2013 at the Boys & Girls Club of Central Virginia in Charlottesville. IHS Board member, Sam McLawhorn,  attended and personally received the grant  from Margaret Bolton Baudinet, JLC's Community Vice President.

Comments from Sam

SamMc with JCL Award Recipients The IHS Baby Program's primary objective is to provide the infant car seats through UVA Office of Social Work for indigent families who simply cannot afford to purchase this "must have" safety device when an infant is released from the Hospital. The car seats must be new, and three different sizes are requested based on the size of the child upon release.

IHS has been actively providing the infant car seats for two years. The first year projection was for thirty (30) seats for all UVA pediatric clinics; however, the end result was forty-four(44) seats. Our expectation over the next year is for no less than fifty (50) seats. This JLC grant will be so helpful in reaching that goal.  Thank you ... Junior League of Charlottesville!

A Note from UVA Social Worker Vikki Bravo who is retiring May 10th

Hi to the Board of the Volunteer Army of I H S,

I love you guys! I have been at U VA 15 years  and a social worker 36 years. It  has been a privilege to do this work. I see the best of the human spirit. People in very difficult circumstances find that they have strength they didn't know they had. And I H S has given them the extra help to receive medical care with dignity. It has been a joy working with you all, and I look forward to continuing in the Volunteer Army.  Love,  Vikki