ArticleID: 101
Date: 9/6/2001
Written By: Captain Jackson

by Captain Jackson

Like most parents with children, each summer I hear the same line as everyone else from my child, "I`m bored. There`s nothing to do."

My usual response to this is, "there`s no such thing as bored, only boring people". And while true, this line only lasts about five minutes. And I well remember summers growing up in a large city. There too, I can remember the countless days when the second hand on the clock seemed to tick like the hour hand.

Each year, in addition to alternate weekends and a number of evenings throughout the week, I have my daughter for the majority of the summer. As I have never believed in "daycare", I have been relegated to run my schedule around her for most of the eleven years she has been on this planet. Fortunately, I have the kind of vocation which will allow this, but even the slightest of problems can be very trying when attempting to conduct business. And of course, the older they get, the more you can have on your hands. But the solution can be a great deal easier than you may think. It`s called volunteering.

I was introduced to Judy Wright of the Crouch Senior Center on Cortland Street in downtown Jackson about two years ago. I was very impressed with what the senior center has to offer the elderly in the form of services, activities and daily lunch. The center even cooks food for the county jail and the "Meals on Wheels" program for elderly "shut-ins".

Judy went on to discuss the center`s need for volunteers, and how age is no limit. In fact one of the current directors at the center, Lisa Tinsley, began her career years ago as a volunteer---and at about the same age as my daughter. Since then, Lisa went on to college and returned to what has become a very rewarding life for her.

I spoke to my daughter about the possibility of helping out at the center. And though at first a bit apprehensive, she did have limited experience helping with her grandmother who had been stricken with a stroke.

This is the second year she has worked at the center. I usually drop her off around ten in the morning. For the first hour she socializes with the elderly, many of whom have become her close friends. Shortly after eleven it`s time to prepare for lunch. And even though the pride of many of the elderly to remain independent is evident, most people at the center not only enjoy her company, but enjoy the help she gives with meals and cleaning up.

Then it`s activity time. Sometimes the center hosts local musicians, sometimes it`s games. Regardless, everyone enjoys my daughter helping out.

Another great Jackson volunteer spot is The Michigan Theatre on Mechanic Street. It might seem like an unlikely spot for a young person to volunteer, but think again. The majority of the volunteers are under the age of sixteen.

Even though I began volunteering there before my daughter and girlfriend, both found the work as rewarding as I have. For my daughter it has been an experience of working under the clock, as the old adage "the show must go on" very much applies.

Before a show, it is her duty to greed patrons and assist in any answers to questions they may have. If it is a live show, she will regularly check with the performers backstage to see if they need anything such as snacks, drinks, etc.

Once the performance begins she helps re-supply the concession stand and help clean up around the lobby. After that, her time is pretty much her own. Sometimes she takes in a show herself. But her job is not over when the show ends. Once the patrons leave she joins many of the other volunteers with trash bags to pick up the litter left in the theater. And yes, on occasion she just drops by just to enjoy a show, soda and snack free gratis without the volunteer duties. But even on those occasions, she always finds herself hanging around after the show to help out.

The idea of volunteering may scare your child at first as it did mine because of the work involved, but like school, after the first day or two, they usually find it very enjoyable and wish to continue. For years my daughter and I used to spend her spring break traveling, but no more. Now it`s always, "Dad, did you let them know (at the senior center or Michigan Theatre) I`ll be there to volunteer?" And kids say there`s nothing to do.

Copyright 2001, CFC

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