Being the mother of a young child has not prevented me from continuing to do something that has been very important to me—volunteer work. I’m still able to give back to people or communities in need and to causes that matter to me. In fact, Babywearing has allowed me to make community service projects a family activity.
When my daughter was 7 months old, I took her with me as I walked in the local Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure. I’m proud to say that leading up to the race I was the person on my team who raised the greatest amount of money. On the day of the race, I dressed my daughter and myself for a long walk on a hot summer day in D.C. I chose a wrap that is known for being thin and breathable. I also chose a carry that is sufficiently supportive and comfortable for longer periods. I woke up super early to metro to downtown D.C. On the train I met some inspirational cancer survivors who talked with both my and my daughter. During the opening speeches and ceremony, my baby started off very excited by all the activity. She eventually fell asleep during the walk and took a long nap on my back. Afterwards, I took her to the kids’ tent where she was able to nurse and nap then have a snack (while sitting on another carrier) that was provided by the organization.
I also took my daughter with me when I participated
in the September 11, 2010 Day of Service and Remembrance. I volunteered to work with a group of children at an area Boys and Girls Club. The other volunteers and I began by playing with the children outside while my 9-month old happily observed from my back. First I played a calm game of four-square. I was happy to have my hungry nursling close and we took a few breaks so that I could feed her. Then I safely played outfield in a game of kickball. Later, I scoped out a game of dodge ball. Once I decided that it was safe enough to play, I joined in the fun with (and actually won a round). The volunteers led educational indoor activities, such as completing work sheets and holding age-appropriate discussions about the events of September 11, 2001 and the important work of our men and women of the armed forces. During the indoor activities, I switched my baby to a hip carry so that I could sneak in a few kisses and cuddles while continuing to do my work. Finally, everyone rested a bit outside in the nice weather.
My most recent volunteer project was on the 2011 Martin Luther King Day of Service when my daughter was a toddler. During that project, my daughter was on my back “talking” to everyone. The adults cut fleece into scarves while the group of children we were working with decorated canvas bags. We all assembled the scarves along with hats and gloves then stuffed them into the canvas bags. The children were very proud to be making winter gifts to share with children in need. Then we talked about Martin Luther King, Jr’s life work and his importance to this country. We ended the day by reading various books related to social justice; my daughter was in front carry in the wrap. The adults read to the children then the children read to the adults. Afterwards, I unwrapped my daughter and she toddled around and played with the “big kids.”
I carefully choose safe volunteer projects when I know my daughter will likely come along. It wouldn’t be safe for me to take her with me for projects like working to rehab an older building. She also wouldn’t go with me to the food kitchen where there are lots of us moving around with knives and hot liquids.
I like to think that I am setting a good example for my daughter by bringing her with me when I volunteer. I plan for these projects to be just the beginning of many service projects that we participate in as a family. I also hope that volunteer work will become important to her and that she will choose to actively seek out service opportunities as she grows.