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IMG_0627.JPGWe were thrilled to hear about Lainie Morgan’s experiences during her first volunteer experience with SCAN. Enjoy her story — we hope it inspires you to volunteer, too!

As someone who used to teach children and families in Baltimore but now supports educators from a national office and misses being in the classroom, I sought out the opportunity to work directly with my new community through www.volunteermatch.org. SCAN’s mission and activities seemed to align well with what I’d learned supporting family resiliency strengthening for 15 years, so I signed up after attending one of SCAN’s monthly volunteer orientations.

Paired with the class of children five years and older, I assumed that the kids would come begrudgingly, antsy after a day of school, and be completely uninterested in the curriculum. Instead, students asked if they could come more than once a week, ran to the door each evening excited to start, greeted me with a big smile and stories of their week, and for the most part, engaged fully with our class. I was truly taken aback by how much the kids opened up and shared their talents and enthusiasms. From computer coding, patiently helping younger students and balancing with closed eyes to reading eagerly during snack, inventing new ways to explain an idea and really witty humor, these students have a ton to offer and build upon.

One week, our lone second grader gave me a card she’d made to celebrate her graduation from ESOL. I felt so special after she’d thought about me at school and wrote this beautiful note that I decided to write all the kids individual cards for the next class so they could enjoy that same feeling. During the volunteer debriefing that same evening, a parent educator asked if I’d share my observation about how well one of the kids was doing with her parent the following week. It can be hard for parents to recognize all the gifts children have when they spend a lot of time with them while managing the frustrations and annoyances of everyday life, so I was happy to reflect back what I was experiencing with the kids.

The next week each student got a letter describing what I’d noticed them doing especially well and how their presence in class specifically contributed to what we were all getting out of it. I also made a copy for each family, so that parents and caregivers could see how their kids were thriving. Parents and students alike were more excited than I expected; families talked about how grateful they were to hear such a glowing report and kids were surprised they’d achieved so much. One student gave me a big hug, another recited back to me one of the talents I’d mentioned in a later class, and a third made his own thank you card for me.

Strong self-esteem and consistent connections with a supportive adult greatly impact a child’s development. I feel extremely privileged to get to contribute even a tiny bit to that by working with the children touched by SCAN’s Parent Education Program. I would strongly encourage others to get involved as well; matching your talents with SCAN’s various needs ultimately puts you in a place to serve the needs of children and parents right here in our community.

– Lainie Morgan, SCAN Volunteer

p.s. SCAN’s next Volunteer Orientations this summer will be held on July 14 and August 6. Register here.

Navigating the ins and outs of the court system, families, teachers, doctors and all the people involved in a child’s life can be daunting, but we recently had the opportunity to celebrate someone who makes it look easy – Ann Caulkins, one of our CASA Program staff members.  Ann volunteered with SCAN’s CASA Program for 5 years before she joined our staff 10 years ago. Since then her advocacy has touched the lives of hundreds of children in the local court system because of abuse and neglect.

Last week SCAN had a party in her honor. In case you weren’t there, we wanted to share some pictures with you (take a look below…)

Quite the crowd came out to celebrate Ann – CASA volunteers, staff and board members. Here's Ann being congratulated by SCAN founder Dave Cleary.

The party's theme was Adventures in CASAland, so there had to be an Adventures in CASAland board game…and here’s Ann examining herself as a board game piece…she has really “arrived” now.

Here’s another long-time CASA, Sabrina Black, and CASA staff Dana Taylor trying to find their CASA children safe and permanent homes in the Adventures in CASAland game – Dana looks like she may have won this round.

At the end of the evening, Ann shared some of her thoughts about what keeps her going and her appreciation for all the volunteers and staff and community members she works with who help her really see the impact our work has…thank you again, Ann. We couldn’t do it without you!

FANCY FREE TUESDAY:

Wait, Tuesday!? Yep – that’s right. We’re doing a very special giveaway early this week (instead of our usual Fancy Free Friday). That’s because the big giveaway is THREE REDSKINS vs. Steelers tickets for the game THIS FRIDAY, August 12th, plus a parking pass!

How to enter to win? Simply comment below with your own favorite memory about volunteering – OR your favorite memory with Ann over the past 15 years – and you’ll be entered to win.  Comment AND subscribe to the blog and you get an extra entry!

We’ll announce the winner first thing Thursday morning…so you have plenty of time to pick up your tickets at the SCAN office before the big game.

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SCAN works to build hope for children and families in Northern Virginia. This blog brings child welfare professionals the current trends and valuable resources that will support their work to prevent child abuse and strengthen families in Northern Virginia and beyond.

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