I founded GRIN to put the love to good use.
It seemed so obvious to me. How will the little ones learn if the big ones don't show them the way? How can you bemoan the fact that young people don't go to the polls when you've done nothing to show them that all politics is, ultimately, local. Our representative was coming to the neighborhood; I took the kid and off we went.
In the aftermath, lying on Douglas and wondering what I would be able to do when I got up and around again, the notion of bringing together those who have time and those who have needs began to form. Nearly two years later, eleven months into the process of receiving a 501c3 designation, GRIN has brought smiles to schools all over Tucson.
We've delivered treats for faculty and staff on The First Day of School Love Fest. We've brought our cars to the parking lot for Trunk or Treat. And, last Thursday, we were at Prince Elementary School once again, staffing the craft table at the PTO's Winter Fiesta.
It was our second time around; we knew what we were doing before we got there. Last year, the volunteers got lost wandering around the campus, looking for the event. That was less painful than the 30 minutes it took us to find an escape from the gated school grounds. By the time we found an opening in the chain link, I was tearing up at the site of my car. This year, I brought signs and made chalk arrows on the pavement to guide us coming and going. It made a big difference; no one got lost.
As always, at Prince it's the United Nations of The Neighborhood coming together to celebrate the children. The kindergarteners had mastered choral singing; the crowd was on its feet to cheer them on.
The headmistress at the Cuters' pre-school used to say that parents will sit for two hours in tiny chairs to watch their child portray a head of lettuce on the stage. This crowd was no exception.
The games and the crafts were lacking in participants; everyone was watching the show on the stage.
Some little ones needed Daddy's shoulders so that they could see.
Some of the volunteers were mesmerized, hands on hips, trying to hear the little voices over the amplified sound.
There were two rows of proud parents pressed up against the stage, snapping pictures at a furious rate. No one sitting behind them could see a damn thing, yet no one complained. It was that kind of an evening.
Some of us go to Centennial Hall or the Leo Rich Theater or the Temple of Music and Art for our culture. Some of us go to the cafeteria at Prince Elementary School. As the PTO president (the blur in the grey t-shirt in the middle of the picture above) noted, this is the community's holiday party. Everyone was there.
GRIN volunteers were at the craft table, making snowflakes by painting the hands of unsuspecting youths.
Hands were coated with white paint mixed with dish soap (making it easier to clean) and then placed carefully on the blue background. The volunteer moved the paper around, and the painted hands were place four times.
Each snowflake was unique; each child's technique slightly different.
This was not a neat experience.
Cleaning up was almost as much fun as making the snowflake itself.
We were in and out in two hours.
As Debbie, our newest GRINner, told me, "this is the easiest volunteering I've ever done!"
And that's the point.
I do all the paperwork and the planning.
The helpers show up and share the love.
Then we all go home.
It's not that hard to do good in this world.