Alright, I’ll admit that I’m a little behind on this post – our Spring Fling event was a few weeks ago. Would you believe I’ve been too busy volunteering to post about it? Forgive me.
STRIVE is a program focused on addressing the issues of young people with disabilities. The cornerstone of their program is a weekly Friday Night Social for these teens and young adults to interact with their peers. A friend of mine from Maine AmeriCorps Alums saw they needed help creating theme nights for the socials and immediately emailed the program to set up a date. Our group spent a lot of time brainstorming games and crafts for the evening – after much deliberation and a few duds (umm…oragami?!), we came up with our grand plan. We decided to do cookie decorating, plant potting, tissue paper flowers, an egg hunt, and face painting.
I started out helping with the tissue paper flowers (somehow, I’d been deemed a pro at this), but eventually found myself with a paintbrush in my hand. The last time I painted anyone’s face was year’s ago, and I’m certainly far from an artist. But, I was in luck! My first (and only) customer just wanted a rainbow – easy enough! Oh, but then he wanted a woman’s face on his cheek, and a swirly thing on his neck, and a fancy moustache…yeah, and then a full beard. Turns out my artistry (or lack there of) was completely irrelevant. The weird thing is, the whole thing made me super sappy. I seriously almost started crying at how beautiful the moment was – this kid was totally appreciating me and the process more than the outcome of some pretty drawing on his face. Well, I’m just going to tell myself that since he immediately washed it all off.
After face painting, I got my dance on. The DJ was an “aged-out” member of STRIVE, volunteering his time to continue involvement with the program. He was eager to play my request (MJ, of course) and I did the best moonwalk that dance floor had ever seen. One of the kids, J. grabbed on to a few of us to form a dance circle. The throng of beautiful woman around him was clearly…shall we say… “exciting” for him. I’m not that mature, so I bailed after a weak attempt to draw boundaries (“I only dance with myself, J.”).
The only downer of the night was the realization that C. from STRIVE had clearly exaggerated when she told us there would be about 70-100 attendees at the event. I think we’d be lucky to call it 30-40, which left us with lots of extra cookies and seedlings (obviously something to complain about).
We debriefed over a beer – turns out many of us had rewarding moments like my “this is the best thing ever” thought while slopping brown face paint all over that kid’s face. Guess the old adage is true – “No one can sincerely try to help another without helping himself.” What are you STRIVING for?