A little over two years ago, my family and I moved from Pennsylvania to Kansas City, MO for a great job opportunity that my husband was being offered with Harley Davidson. We were all very excited about this opportunity but with this move, I was being asked to say goodbye to my creative job of 10 years as assistant director for the performing arts department at our local high school. It was simply a time of transition, growth, and adventure as we were finding and building a new community.
My twin daughters changed schools and finished 2nd grade here while my son finished his final year of preschool and started Kindergarten the next fall.
I completely underestimated the amount of time it would take us to feel like we knew our way around, to find doctors and dentists, to feel comfortable in our new home and schools, and to find that treasured grocery store where you can race in and out in less than 30 minutes. It took awhile but in that time we grew as a family, met many kind people, had the space to question what we really wanted to do, began friendships, and embarked on this new journey together.
Later that fall, I finally felt like I was settled and was ready to start sinking in some roots. My kids were now all in school, my husband was feeling fulfilled with his new responsibilities, and I was half way through a graduate studies program in Inner Awareness Training with the School of Humanity and Awareness. I loved the work I was doing and had visions of creating my own creative expressions business that would combine my BFA in theatre with my graduate work in Inner Awareness. I had experience in creating similar programs with the kids back in Pennsylvania but this was an opportunity to design one myself. I began to organize my thoughts and put some energy into designing what a program like that may look like. I also began working at Starlight Theatre as one of the High School adjudicators and as guest acting teacher.
As I was designing my business and going to school, I was also seeking volunteer opportunities that felt aligned to being in service to creative expression, self worth, and inner awareness. I researched various organizations and came upon Child Protection Center. I was immediately drawn into their mission statement, “The Mission of the Child Protection Center is to respect the child and protect their voice throughout the investigation of child abuse.”
The idea of protecting a child’s voice was inspiring and I felt like that resonated with what I was creating in supporting children to find their voice through creative expression. I thought this could be a mutually beneficial volunteer opportunity. I contacted Laura at the CPC and she arranged for a meeting. I was inspired listening and sharing during this meeting as we talked about what I may bring and how my unique offering of creative engagement may be able to offer support in their waiting room space. This space tends to get very active with many families and children ranging in age, all experiencing their own levels of uncertainty and carrying the drive to move beyond what trauma may have brought them there. We wondered if it could be a place where we could work to create more safety, command more care, and while having fun, hold a place of kind awareness as these families have an important job to do when they come and we want to support that. So, that became my intention. I carry that intention with me….always.
I volunteer a few mornings a month at CPC with the intention of using play and fun to create safety, command care, and hold awareness in support of the job these courageous kids are doing to lead the way for their voices to speak their truth. Along with the wide variety of fun toys already there, I also bring a bag full of creative supplies like stickers, colored pencils, books, coloring pages, dry erase boards, my own love of being a mother, and my theatrical imagination as I spend time in the CPC waiting room simply engaging in play with the kiddos there waiting to be seen by one of the forensic interviewers. I am simply there to meet them with kindness, welcoming energy, creativity, and kind attention. It is my wish that all kids that walk through the door feel safe, welcome, and deeply cared for while they are in the CPC space. The irony is that their laughter during one of our tea parties or stuffed animal games or their imagination bursting through a village we make with blocks or trains or the peace that I can see when we just color a picture together, gives me way more than I could ever give them. I never know what fun play I will get into when I am there and I always say I have the best volunteer job ever—to simply give attention to and play with remarkable kids. As I am there, I can see creative expression allow these kiddos to come alive and I have learned so much about the command of care that I want for my own business in creative expression.
I love this opportunity to volunteer and to support the CPC mission with all of the fantastic individuals there doing their own unique and vitally important jobs. It has opened my heart, inspired my vision for my business that I will finally launch this summer in a creative camp of my own and it continues to grow my strength. I am grateful for this amazing organization.
For information about volunteering at the Child Protection Center, visit www.cpckc.org. Together we can continue to make a difference in children’s lives.