I often take the volunteers on these trips for granted and the students definately don't appriciate the sacrifice these parents, church members, etc. have made to be here this week. I do realize the disaster these trips would be if I had to do them by myself. This year I was especially looking forward to this trip to Bellflower, California. I am not sure if it was the mixture of students or the volunteers, however there was an excitement personally for this adventure of service in southern California. All of that doesn't matter now - now I simply want to brag on these leaders and how they are working with these students. They are not perfect...and there are many stories your kids will tell you about the mistakes or mis-adventures they have participated in, but let me tell you about there week so far.
Curtis is doing a great job. He is fabulous with the kids and always has an upbeat attitude on worksites. I am jealous of the amount of energy he has after a day of work to still "play" with students, and then update the blog and photo gallary before trying to get our students to sleep. Curtis' strongest assets is his ability to connect with students. Kids are naturally drawn to him - and I think it is due to how he cares for our students. This week he is leading a group with Coni.
Coni is a rock - consistent, strong, dependable. I was thrilled when offerered to come again this year. She has an ability to respond calmly in any situation. This trip Coni responded to kids that are having a more difficult time, for one reason or another. She has an ability to make them feel safe and cared for. Homesickness, fatique and the heat have made all of us miserable one time on this trip - Coni's encouraging comments and hospitality often turns things around.
Ray has also been fantastic, although being around this many kids likely seems like old hat for him. His quiet sense of humor keeps things light when stresses get a little out of control. I have discovered that he has an untamed addiction to Starbucks Coffee and will go through great struggle to obtain a morning cup of Joe. He seems to be passing off his addition to most of our students.
Sherri & Jane have both been extremely busy this trip. They are the the trip moms, consistantly making sure kids are wearing sunscreen, dishing out the medication and monotoring the laundry situation. We would be lost without them. One thing I could do without is the consistant harrasement about everything, which is somewhat halarious do to the quirks they both have. They are both doing a great job making sure kids have what they need to make this a good week.
Frank has been the most surprising volunteer on this trip. I have never had Frank on any over night youth events, and was somewhat worried how cranky sleeping on a concrete floor for a couple of weeks would make him. Frank has surprised us all on how he has been able to connect with students. There is no doubt that all the volunteers have been stretched beyond what they find comfortable - and no question Frank has responded well (check out the pictures - they give a better picture).