Yesterday, I participated in a workshop for families organized by financial planner Cheryl Young and the Silicon Valley Community Foundation. This was a new project for them, and for the first time being offered, I thought they struck a good balance between content for the kids with activities to keep them engaged, and content for the parents.
The two-hour program featured:
- A brief introduction
- A testimonial from one of the parents, talking about the types of volunteer experiences she and her kids had engaged in, along with some cues about what activities might be “too early” for some of the younger ones
- Michelle Berg, community relations and events coordinator from the Second Harvest Food Bank, spoke about her own experience as a client of the food pantry growing up, and the alarming level of need (nearly 10% of the people in these counties, nominally one of the richest parts of the world, used the services). SHFB is able to leverage donations of imperfect/hard-to-sell fruits and vegetables, plus relationships with major grocery chains to really stretch their resources, providing lots of meals (100,000/day (!), 45 million pounds/year(!!!)) at just 50 cents per meal.
After the talk and a very short video about an elementary school student who organized a food drive (1:50 YouTube video), we did a short food-sorting project, helping to pack healthy snack bags. Our group of about 30 people (more kids than adults) made short work of the packing project, and had a snack break of our own.
- Jennifer Yeagley, the Executive Director from My New Red Shoes, described the importance of letting poor and homeless children start school with the sense of pride and belonging that comes from a new outfit and school supplies. Recipients get a pair of new sneakers, a $50 Old Navy gift card, school supplies appropriate to their age, and a card from a volunteer who helped make and pack the gift bag. The kids split off to decorate cards for the bags (which ended up being a favorite activity of the day for most of them).
- Meanwhile, the adults learned a bit more about Silicon Valley Community Foundation and the 5 major initiatives for our community. Gina Dalma, the Program Officer for SVCF’s education initiative spoke about the inequality in the schools in our counties, as well as the hope for advancing the laggard schools with appropriate leadership and teacher training. She answered questions from the very education-focused parents.
- I got a chance to describe my book project, and appreciated the friendly reception for what was essentially the first public presentation of the work in progress.
- Cheryl Young finished off with a plea to the kids to engage their parents in conversation about what they could do. I was impressed that even as a financial planner, Cheryl felt it was more important to have “Give” come before “Save” in the workshop series. I think her comments and mine struck a very similar tone, even without any advance planning.
- Marie Young, Director of Donor Learning and Engagement of SVCF, prepared packets for the adults, with a bibliography of family-friendly books on giving, some tips for starting conversations, and a reprint from a Scholastic Family article, as well as a bunch of SVCF background information. The kids’ goody bags were more fun: a t-shirt and stuffed animal from Cheryl, and a pen that looked like a fork from Second Harvest Food Bank.