Today we are excited to have Heather Barrow, founder of High Risk Hope, guest posting on the blog. High Risk Hope is a local non-profit (and our Charity of the Month) that provides moms on hospital bedrest with Bedrest Baskets as well as NICU Napsacks to those families who have extended stays in the NICU. Today Heather will be sharing how to teach your children to give back to the community.
I am blessed with a healthy family, loyal friends, a beautiful home, and career that I love. Hill (6) and Claire (8) attend a wonderful school, take piano lessons, and spend their weekends doing activities at museums, watching plays and movies, and playing in parks. They do not know what it feels like to be hungry, thirsty, or without shelter, clothing, healthcare, or education. Does any of this sound familiar? Chances are if you are reading this on your phone, tablet, or computer and have children, you have a similar family life. On paper my kids may sound spoiled, entitled, and over-scheduled, but in person they are empathetic, charitable, and kind. On a regular basis, they try to find ways on their own to help others in need. I am not always proud of my parenting decisions, but this is one thing our family is getting right. Here are a few ways you can bring out the mini philanthropist in your child too:
1. Lead by example. I spend 40 hours a week (unpaid) running High Risk Hope and making sure we are positively impacting the lives of high risk moms and their babies. My kids are proud of what I do and talk about it often. They ask how I was able to start HRH and what it takes to run it. Claire has decided that she wants to start her own nonprofit and has begun designing the logo and drafting a business plan.
I recognize that the majority of society does not have the ability to dedicate unlimited hours every week to a charity, but how much of your time do you spend helping others in need? Do you remember your parents consistently helping others when you were a child? If the answers to those questions were zero and no, are you repeating that cycle with your children? How many hours does your child spend at extracurricular activities such as soccer, dance or swimming? Everyone is busy, but it doesn’t take much time to make a difference in the life of another, and it is free.
2. Help them identify their passion to find a cause. My passion is prolonging high risk pregnancies to ensure premature infants are born healthier. While I would love for Claire and Hill to share my passion, they don’t. They are passionate about animals – Claire: anything that roams land, and Hill: the sea. We talk about the animals they love and ways to help them, especially the ones who might one day be extinct. With all of the headlines about the mistreatment of animals in captivity at local amusement parks, we discuss the pros and cons of having those beautiful creatures in captivity. Should we support those companies by visiting the park? Maybe visit and volunteer at the Clearwater Marine Aquarium instead. We help them come to the decision and support it. What is your child’s passion? Once you figure it out, you will have a captive audience. There are so many worthy causes out there that you will easily find one your child is excited about.
3. Pick a fundraising or volunteer activity that interests them. This is the fun part, talk to your child about what their skills are and how they would like to help. Do you have a budding entrepreneur? Then help them bake and host a neighborhood bake sale. Want to avoid present overload over the holidays? Ask for donations in lieu of gifts. Have a future athletic star? Participate in a charitable athletic event; my favorite is the HRH Tot Trot, which will be held at Gadsden Park in Tampa on November 14! We know our Tot Trotters are never too small to make a big difference for premature babies, and they know it too. If you reach out to the charity you plan to support, they should be able to give you ideas for your child based on age. At HRH, we make it easy for kids to get involved through mini-fundraisers. You don’t have to raise much; every dollar will help the charity you support.
No one is perfect, and I know my kids will make big mistakes growing up, just like I did. I also believe that rather than harming an animal, humiliating a homeless person, or bullying a classmate to the brink of disaster, they will be the ones to help. By raising children to be mini-philanthropists who are charitable, kind, and empathetic, we will all ensure that the future of our communities is bright.
High Risk Hope’s annual Tot Trot Race is Saturday November 14th and all Mommy Spot readers will be receiving a special promotion code for 15% off their race entry using the code: TMS. You can sign up for the race here or click here to learn more about this non-profit.