On New Year’s Eve weekend I wasn’t actively crafting my resolution. My husband had gone off on a fire call (he volunteers at our local fire department), and my daughter and I were surfing the channels for a movie to watch. We came across Won’t You Be My Neighbor a documentary about (Mister) Fred Rogers. In one of the clips from his long-running show, he is seen putting his bare feet into a wading pool with Mr. Clemmons, a person of color, back in 1969 when separate (and not really equal) was still a rule. In another clip Mr. Rogers is shown having a conversation with a child with a disability in a wheelchair.
I respected him a great deal, he was a very good role model for inclusion; most people don’t know that he was also an ordained minister. He brought his message of ‘loving your neighbor’ to millions of children and the many adults who watched the show right along with them. What Mr. Rogers sought to accomplish through his show is exactly what we seek to do through our mission— create a sense of community; a community where everyone is valued and included. If you get the chance to see the documentary, prepare to be amazed at how sweet and how bold his messages were to all of us.
In order for us to create community, we cannot expect that all needs of our family members will be met through paid services. Many of our staff are worried about how the people we support will be seen in our outer communities. Many families are troubled by societal biases that question why someone would want to parent a child—who in the mind of the beholder is less than perfect. It is truly up to all of us to create the world we want, and all of us can make a difference.
Here are two examples of making a difference simply by serving:
- A few days ago while my daughter was taking her dog for a walk around the neighborhood, she stopped to chat with a neighbor whose her daughter had just come on some tough times. She was unemployed with two small children, and separated from her husband. The neighbor said they were trying to make due on food stamps. So what did we do in that moment to show we cared? We quickly whipped up a few hearty casseroles and took them over. We could have easily chosen to do nothing, it was a great day for goofing off; but we saw an opportunity to serve and took action.
- During a trip to an amusement park, one of our management staff was in line with his family and ahead of them was a park attendant taking some extra time to help a child with a disability. Other guests waiting in the line expressed their frustrations, and our fellow KenCrest staff member calmly asked for their patience because everyone deserves a chance! Afterwards the parents of the child thanked him for his support.
It’s our little moments of kindness and small acts of service that define us and strengthen our community. Whether these acts take place at our workplace, our homes, or in public places—they still matter! For the next few weeks my blog messages will be simple, but they will challenge you to think deeper. I am not asking you to make any New Year resolutions, but I will ask you some questions. So, with that being said—how are you serving?