My close friend, Mary Patel, and I piloted our first community seva event last weekend in my backyard. We invited 15 neighborhood families (one parent with children 3 years or older). For our first project, we helped an incredible organization, Youth Homes, which serves as a resource center and provides residence homes for at-risk and neglected adolescents. This was an especially meaningful project because my friend, Beth Goldberg, is the Director of Development there. An ongoing need that Youth Homes has is to supply shower/bath/hygiene essentials to their young clients who live at their residence homes.
During our seva project we talked to the families about how simple things like toothpaste and shampoo are things many of us take for granted, but that there are a lot of kids who don’t even have these simple pleasures in life. So our purpose there was to just help a few of those kids by putting together hygiene kits, but we wanted to put them together with a lot of love.
To focus on the “love,” we did mindfulness and compassion activities, and learned about “Jackie” – a young girl who came to Youth Homes. Probably the most powerful part of our entire event was a group brainstorm with the “littles” where we asked them what they would say to “Jackie” to make her feel better. The littles (some as young as 3) came up with amazing phrases to say to Jackie such as “You are a bright star.” We used these words to decorate the shower caddies, and then each family assembled each caddy with bath/hygiene supplies that we had pre-purchased ahead of the time. We concluded with a story to talk about the “basic brain science” behind mindfulness and did some mindful movements with the amazing Betsey Shandolav to focus on how to “have courage to be kind.”
The energy during our event was so incredibly warm, positive and filled with love. Many parents commented that not only did their kids have fun, but that they really learned why they were there to help the kids at Youth Homes. And there was an overwhelmingly positive response that they wanted to continue participating in similar projects in the future.