Tuesday, January 17, 2012

12 in 12: January Update

During 2012, Sophia, Olivia, and I are doing a special challenge that we've named 12 in 12. We are doing 12 different activities that help people in need, animals, or the environment. 

This is what we did during January: 

- Take 1 bag of food to the food shelf. On January 15th, we took a bag of food to the collection cart at church. Once a month, the food is brought to the food shelf for distribution to families in need.

Olivia eagerly put a bag of food in the cart.
The donations are brought to the food shelf in Stillwater.

- Volunteer 1 hour at a community organization that is chosen each month. At the beginning of the month, my dad was under hospice care at a nursing home because of Alzheimer's Disease. From the late-afternoon of January 1st through the early-morning of January 5th (when he died), I was there around-the-clock to ensure he was getting the care and pain medicine he needed.

With the exception of  4 hours of sleep (8 p.m.-midnight) on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday nights when my brother sat in the room with my dad and mom to ensure everything was okay, I was with my dad about 74 hours during this time period.

Being at a nursing home for that period of time made me acutely aware of how hard the nurses and nursing aides have to work. For example, at night there were 48 residents in the palliative and hospice unit where my dad was living. There was one nurse and two aides there. Granted, this is at night when most of the residents are sleeping. However, my dad (even though he was dying) needed more care than what the staff could have provided.

I held my dad's hand for many hours,
letting him know I was there next to him.

So, this month - rather than choosing another organization at which to volunteer - I chose to spend my time with my dad - which not only helped him, but helped the staff by relieving them of some of the tasks that they needed to do to help him.

The nurses taught me how to do certain things that would provide comfort to my dad; and how to monitor his respiration rate. These were things that I could do during this time that were helpful - both to my dad and the nurses.

I was told that many of the residents go through the dying process and die without anyone there. Being with my dad around-the-clock was unusual...though, they said, a testament to how much he loved and gave to others...and how that was reflected back to him. It is making me think quite a bit about the need for volunteers in the hospice field...and if that may be something that I may be interested in doing in the future.

- Donate 1 bag of clothing to a second-hand shop. On January 14th, we donated two bags of clothing to Family Pathways.

Sophia and Olivia outside Family Pathways
with bags of donations - clothing, toys, and other items.

- Donate 1 bag of toys and other non-clothing items to a second-hand shop. On January 14th, we donated five bags of toys, household goods, and holiday items to Family Pathways. (See picture above which includes these bags.)

- Donate 12 books that we no longer read to organizations needing books. We donated 22 books to the new community library that is opening in a neighboring town. The library will be operated by volunteers from the community after the county had to greatly reduce funding to support the library.

The 22 books that we donated to the new community library.
If they can't use them, they will donate them to the local elementary school
for their spring fundraiser.

Whatever books that aren't used for the library will be donated to the local elementary school when they do their spring fundraiser.

Sophia putting books in the collection box
for the new community library.

- Donate $12 to an organization that helps individuals, animals, or the environment. Sophia, Olivia, and I decided to donate $20 to Northwoods Humane Society since finding loving homes for animals is an issue that is important to us. This is the place where we adopted Gretel on March 27, 2008.

We made the donation in memory of my dad. As a side note, the reason I visited Northwoods back in 2008 was because Casey (my dog) had died in February 2008. I was looking for another dog and saw an ad in the paper for a Corgi that was available at Northwoods. My dad's favorite dog was his Corgi who lived in the 1960s and 1970s.

When I saw the Corgi, it was not recommended for families with children. The Northwoods staff suggested a puppy that they had available. Gretel (who was named "Lucy" at the time) was available and immediately we felt a connection with her.

Girls and Me Picking Up Gretel
Olivia, Sophia, Gretel, and me
on Gretel's adoption day in 2008.

Currently at Northwoods there  many affectionate, quiet, or playful cats and kittens who needed families. Whatever personality cat or kitten you are looking for, there is one certainly who would fit that description.

One of the cats waiting for a new home.

I enjoyed playing with Scrambles - who kept sticking her paws out of the cage for me play with and to pet. The girls must have taken dozens of pictures of the cats and kittens.

Scrambles is looking for a family.

There are also many dogs at Northwoods (more about the dogs is written below).

- Write 1 letter to someone who has made a difference in our lives. On January 16th, I hand-delivered a letter I wrote to Angie, my dad's nursing aide, who was so caring and compassionate to him during his time at St. Therese.

She shared a funny story about my dad while I was staying with him at the nursing home. I asked her to tell it again when the pastoral care team did a memorial and prayer service for staff right after my dad died.  It made people laugh (including me) and recall the happier times with my dad.

My letter to Angie, in part, said, "In a time of such overwhelming sadness and loss, humor and the ability to laugh is healing. My dad truly believed that as well. In fact, when he was going through his training to become a deacon, he did a presentation to his class about the value of using humor in the healing process.

"Your patience, compassion, laughter, and empathy radiated from you when you were around my dad. These skills are ones that he had as well….especially before the effects of Alzheimer’s Disease affected his mind and body.

"I’m sure my dad recognized these wonderful qualities in you, Angie; and it is the reason he trusted you to care for him during his last few months of his life."

- Donate 1 bag of pop cans to places that collect them to raise funds. Since we were at Northwoods this month making a financial gift, we decided to donate a bag of cans to them. While we were there, we visited the dogs and cats (see above about the cats).

The girls ready to donate the bag of cans in the collection holder
at Northwoods Humane Society.

All the dogs available for adoption at Northwoods were adults with the exception of one bulldog puppy that was the last remaining one of nine puppies. Her name was "Dottie" (my Mom's nickname when she was growing up).

Dottie the bulldog puppy.

I made a point of visiting each dog, saying her/his name, and spending some time with each one. Some of the information about the adult dogs is heartbreaking - asked how much hours an owner spent with a dog "not too many" or why the dog came to Northwoods "it was tied to the back of a garage" and the owners had abandoned it. A neighbor found the dog and brought it in.

One of the dogs (the one whose owners didn't pay much attention to it) kept bringing me toys. It was so eager to play and get some attention. Hopefully someone will come in soon looking for a dog just like him.

- Donate 1 bag of Purina Kitten Chow (dry) to Northwoods Humane Society (where Gretel was adopted). Sophia and Olivia brought the bag of kitten food to the 4-H meeting on January 16th since the community service project for the month was collecting food and items the kittens, cats, puppies, and dogs need at Northwoods Humane Society.

Donating a bag of Kitten Chow to help
Northwoods Humane Society.

- Spend 1 hour outdoors doing projects that help wildlife. We have enjoyed filling the bird feeders during the month with a variety of seed and suet (homemade and purchased).

Olivia filling one of the suet feeders.

With the weather unseasonably warm this January, this task has been quite enjoyable to do.

Sophia filling the seed and suet feeder by the house.

Even the dogs were interested in filling the feeders...though they were probably waiting for some of the seed and suet to fall on the ground so they could enjoy it.

Gretel patiently waiting for a drop of suet to fall on the ground
as the girls fill the feeders.

- Make and randomly drop off 1 toy for a child to find as part of The Toy Society. I made a hand-embroidered teddy bear that fits in a child's hand, can be slipped into a pocket or backpack, and tucked under a pillow. 

Handmade teddy bear made from a felted sweater and hand-embroidered.
Added a note, "take me home" envelope, and information
about The Toy Society in the package.

Sophia, Olivia, and I had fun putting the teddy bear in the "Customer in Training" cart at Cub, and imagining the child's reaction when she or he would find it and could take it home.

Olivia by the package in the cart.
The teddy bear now just needs a new home.

More information about the project, why we chose Cub as a drop-off location, and what we did is HERE.

- Share 1 time the gift of music (piano and/or harp) or singing with others. The girls sang at church on January 15th at both services.

The girls sang"This Little Light of Mine"
during two church services.

Those were our 12 in 12 activities in January. We enjoyed doing each of these ways of giving, and are looking forward to doing the 12 in 12 challenge in February.


What Remains Now said...

Beautiful. Love with hands and feet.

Jenni said...

I like the ideas of 12 in 12! I will have to keep it in mind for next year. :)