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Don't Stay Away Too Long

By LaDonna Jackson, Promise Fellow at Battle Creek Middle School in St. Paul

A few months ago my GLAM girls where asked… if given 12 Build a Bears and asked to use them towards a service project what would you do? They brainstormed idea like give them to children who don’t have toys, donate them to children in foster care, and lastly would could give them to “old people” senior citizens. As an advisor of the group I loved the idea that they wanted to spend time with the seniors of the community… so I started planning.

I collaborated with our Girls Scouts Troop Leader and we planned a Field Trip for the girls on President’s Day. There was no school this day and it would be the girls’ responsibility to find their ride to school. In the back of my mind I was thinking that because the trip was planned on a day where there was no school the girls would not be interested and we would have to cancel, 15 out of the 25 girls in GLAM turned in their permission slips and attended the trip.

The girls engaged the seniors in conversation and trivia, while painting their nails and the seniors eating their snack. I was able to observe my young women interact in ways that I’ve never seen before. I finally was able to see the growth in my young girls and saw that they were actually learning from the activities we did in after school.  Unfortunately every good thing has to come to an end and was my girls said their good byes I watched the expressions change on the seniors’ faces and the hesitation in the movements of my girls. No one was quite ready for our time to be up. Before we walked past the last table a little old lady “E,” who had not said much during our visit but had grew very fond of one of the girls looks up and says “Don’t you stay away too long.”

My girl “A” stops and says “Oh no E I will be back… really soon.”

It was a pretty quiet walk away from the tables where we had spent 2 hours talking, entertaining, and GLAMifying! The conversations did not really start until both of our groups were reunited, and they started sharing stories of each of the people they had spent time with during our visit.

Ever since we left my GLAM girls have been mentally planning our next trip back to the Senior Living Facility. They are excited spend more time with the seniors but they are more excited to get involved with their community in other ways. They are developing a full schedule of service for themselves and all I can do is support… Because we can’t stay away for too long!

[From “Voices From the Field: Reflections from Minnesota Alliance With Youth’s AmeriCorps Promise Fellows.” Spring 2015.]

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