On February 25, 2014, 3 UMKC staff members attended a “Cottage Pals” outreach project at Gillis Center sponsored by the Outreach Committee.
The evening consisted of interactive reading, and arts and craft projects. The 12 children who participated in the Cottage Pals event was given a choice of 2 books to keep, and a bag full of school supplies, games and fun treats. In addition, the Outreach Committee donated books to the library of the Gillis Center for Children and Families.
The Outreach Committee would like to thank all of those who came out and made this outreach a success. Read the volunteer experiences below and for information about current and future service projects, please contact Sandra Smith at email@example.com.
“Spending time with the boys at Gillis Center was really enjoyable. The twelve boys, age 5 to 12, that we did crafts and read with were so energetic and sweet. My favorite part was letting each boy pick two books to keep. They would come up and look at each cover, some of them exclaiming they liked superheroes or pirates, and chose from many books, ranging from The Frog and the Toad are Friends to Treasure Island. After selecting, their name was written inside. They were so excited and many of them started reading right there. We couldn’t have done it without a fantastic staff as well.” Alicen Lundberg, Administrative Assistant, Art & Art History Department
“I arrived early, which gave me an opportunity to assist the children with their homework, and spend some quality time with the boy’s prior to the outreach. This allowed me the ability to connect with them, and not just perform a function or activity, but establish a relationship with them.
“One of them asked me, “Where the others are, and why I was so early?” I told him, I was in a rush to see you, and spend quality time with you! WOW, He was blown away. You should have seen his smile. That one statement opened up the window of trust, encouragement and the opportunity to help him, not only with his homework, but it helped him to see me in a different light. I was there for him.
“The outreach was controlled [chaos], (spelled excitement, fun, appreciation and wonderment) I loved every bit of it!! The boys were boys! Teasing and rough housing with each other, and clamoring for my attention. Each one was unique and special.
“The first book read to the children was The Snow Day, then proceeded by, I Like Myself, and it was a big hit. I could see in their faces, and eyes that the message from the book fed them, and kept their attention. Like a self-awareness of who they are to themselves, and to accept who they are, and their own special uniqueness and differences.
“I plan on mentoring and volunteering for special projects, and would encourage others, especially men to volunteer and bond with the children of Gillis Center.” Sheila Cheffen, Human Resource Assistant, Human Resources
“The children were so excited to have us, and they loved having their own books to pick out-plus the bookmarks. The teachers helped them put their names in the books. We ended up letting all 12 boys pick 2 and the rest went to the Gillis library. Sheila was able to read 2 books to the children, prior to the arts and crafts portion of the evening, and as she was reading the book, “I like myself”, the boys were so engaged, and it blew me away.
“There was some remaining after the arts and crafts project, which gave Alicen Lundberg the opportunity to read Dumbo to them, and this was a big hit as well. I truly enjoyed my experience with the children of Gillis Center.” Courtney Lee, Administrative Assistant, School of Education