We give thanks for Fridays because, for Make Welcome, that means class day!!!
Beth arrives first with a car full of sewing machines, fabric, and other supplies. She unlocks the door and starts lugging stuff in and up the stairs. Julia arrives shortly after, also with a car full, but instead of sewing machines, her car is full of toys, games, and other necessities for the kids. Together with Julia's amazing and helpful kiddos, everything gets carried inside and up the stairs to our classrooms and kid spaces.
Sewing machines get taken out of boxes and plugged in. Ironing boards and irons pulled out of the storage closet. Scissors, pincushions, and fabric distributed.
In the nursery, car tracks, duplos, and baby and toddler friendly toys are placed around. In the Pre-k room, pictures, books, toys, and craft supplies come out.
Julia's kids are experts in setting up and before long, we've worked together to get everything ready for our students and their children to arrive.
More volunteers and students arrive and after moms settle babies and toddlers in their classrooms, we gather in the sanctuary for a devotion and announcements. Then it's up to the sewing classrooms to work and learn!
Around noon, it's time to pack up the machines, return items to the storage closet or back to the cars they came in. Time to take women and children home, time to vacuum the sticker strewn and thread flecked carpets, time to say good-bye til next week.
Some days, like today, everything runs smoothly. The machines purr away, the children play - a beehive of happy, productive work and play. Some days, things don't go quite so smoothly. Needles break, babies are sad, seams get ripped out, children get sick.
Our Friday motto has become, in the words of our student, Mya, "On Fridays, we are happy!" Regardless of how our day has gone, we are happy and grateful for the privilege of being together with our refugee friends and their children. Thankful for the spirit of generosity and cooperation, thankful for a day to teach and learn skills, encourage our friends, and just BE together.
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Today, we are giving thanks for our volunteers. They are a rock star group of selfless, tireless, generous women and we would not exist without them. Here are some of the many tasks our volunteers do:
Help teach sewing class
Drive students to and from class
Help set-up and clean up both sewing class rooms and childcare rooms
Prep fabric ahead of class
Teach the ABC's
Design curriculum for both the sewing class and the Pre-k program
Comfort little ones
Rock babies to sleep
Pick up completed items from women's homes
Help with questions about everything from rent to Medicaid to school enrollment
Organize special gatherings like Make Welcome dinners and our fun Christmas party
Clean and oil sewing machines
Read books and play games with the children
I'm sure there are other tasks I've left off the list. There is so much to be done, week in and week out. We are incredibly thankful for our wonderful, dedicated volunteers.
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