A New Member’s Insight
Author: Heather Ronan, JLBR Provisional Member
Being a provisional member new to JLBR, I’m still finding my way around the JLBR calendar. I was checking my calendar before going to bed and noticed that no one had signed up for the next day’s Done In A Day (DIAD) volunteer shift at Twin Palm Center and there was only space for one volunteer. Because the DIAD’s fill up quickly, I was surprised there was still the opening. I made a quick check on my office calendar and saw that I could pull off a long lunch, so without overthinking it, I signed up. I really had no idea what I had even signed up for and had no idea what to expect. I woke up the next morning and realized I was nervous. My nervousness grew as the morning went by, which surprised me – I love new experiences, but I realized this was a bit outside my comfort zone. Part of me was very excited about just putting myself out there, and then, of course, I was aware that part of me was resisting. I showed up, nervous and excited, and had plenty of expectations. Expectations that the day would be spelled out for me. That someone would tell me exactly what was expected of me and I would follow instructions. But I walked into the center virtually unnoticed. Everyone was very busy and I immediately felt very out of place. Some of the people were crowded around a table painting ceramics. I was trying to make sense of it all. They were deep in their projects and I couldn’t tell who worked there and who were students. Not going to lie, it was awkward for a whole long minute. But the awkwardness was all on my part. Because soon after I walked in, Anthony came up and gave me a hug. He wasn’t awkward at all! I had to adjust to a new reality. Everyone in the room was full of love. I had to quickly let my expectations go, and just let the day unfold. Not only did I end up getting many hugs throughout the day, but my day was also full of hand-holding, coloring, games, and talking. I learned a lot about my new friends. I learned that although he didn’t say a word to me, Drew smiled all day and held a job on Saturdays rolling napkins for a local restaurant, and proudly wore a baseball cap with all the waitress’s signatures. I learned that Miriam loves the movie “How to Train Your Dragon” and told me all about Astrid’s relationship with Hiccup. (Side note, I’ve seen the movie numerous times and hadn’t even paid attention to the character’s names, leading me to realize I should pay more attention when I watch movies.) We played the Wii dragon video game and we both laughed as she beat me effortlessly. One of the ladies was sad and was telling me she wanted to go home. She ended up just sitting next to me for a while and we compared nail polish and I saw her smile. Eva liked to play tricks and hid one of the worker’s phone from her when she left the table and laughed and laughed while she urged me to keep the secret. They hugged each other throughout the day and looked out for each other. Eva asked Anthony if he wanted to sit down and she encouraged him to count numbers in a workbook. She smiled the entire time. It was two short hours.
I can’t even express what my takeaway was after two short hours. After the shift was over, I spoke to Chris, the director, for about a half-hour and he told me more about the facility and about some of their struggles. How these people live in the shadows. How they “age out” of programs that can help them. It was apparent to me that this man has a huge heart and could really use more help with this program. I could see his passion as he spoke and I empathized with what seems to be an uphill battle. The ladies who work there are all equally as passionate and know everyone’s name and each of their personalities. “Yes, she likes to hold hands. She likes to use stickers. He likes to put his hand on his throat and feel the vibration of his voice. She likes to put on her headphones and listen to classical music.” To say it was an eye-opening experience is an understatement. As we spoke, I shared with them that I have 5 boys and 3 dogs and a cat. They asked me more about it, so I showed them a short video of pictures of my kids. They were genuinely interested and watched my phone enthusiastically. As the day ended and they went home with their parents, grandparents, and caregivers, I saw how many people care for these students and how loved they are. I have an aunt with a special needs daughter and I’ve always respected the energy she’s given to caregiving for her over the years. In her situation, it’s like caring for an infant that never ages – and she does it with joy and grace. I realized today that it isn’t a sacrifice to care for these people, it is a blessing. I understand my aunt just a little bit more today. I saw the joy and love that fills the hearts of these very special people and realized they are truly a gift to all those around them. I can’t wait to sign up to go on the next open DIAD Bowling Day with this crew!
SO WHAT IS A DIAD?
Author: Jayme Weekly, Chair of Done in a Day
Acronyms. We all use them and every industry often has their own acronym vocabulary. The Junior League is no exception. In Junior League lingo, DIAD stands for Done in a Day. A Done in a Day is time spent where members of the Junior League of Boca Raton (JLBR) provide volunteer assistance to qualified nonprofits for short term or one day projects or events. Giving time back to the community is one of the facets of how the Junior League impacts the community in which it serves.
As a League we seek to help nonprofits that fit within our current focus areas of hunger and child welfare and nonprofit support and often support requests from any 501(c)3 that is seeking assistance. One of the qualifying factors is location of the nonprofit. Nonprofits must be in the service area from North Broward to South Palm Beach counties. Volunteer support cannot be provided for fundraising events held by other organizations but time and talents can be used for other non-fundraising initiatives.
In order to request assistance, organizations must fill out our nonprofit assistance form on our website, under “Nonprofit Assistance” or they directly contact the DIAD Chair by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Organizations We’ve Supported
We have supported many organizations this year including: Boca Helping Hands, Best Foot Forward, Place of Hope, Love Boca Outreach, Wayside House, Boys and Girls Club of Delray Beach, Twin Palms, Milagro Center, Youth Activity Center, Gold Coast Down Syndrome, American Red Cross, Junior Achievement, George Snow Scholarship and many more. We are always looks to support more organizations in our community that fit with our League’s focus areas too. So if you are a member of one, work for one or are passionate about another organization in our community, let us know!
Some of My Favorites
With so many great organizations and supporting causes it’s hard to pick favorite, but there are definitely a few gems that stand out. My personal favorites would be Love Boca Outreach, Place of Hope and The Boys and Girls Club of Delray Beach. I loved working at Love Boca Outreach on Thanksgiving and serving those that had nowhere else to go. It was so humbling to sit with the homeless men and women and talk to them and share a meal. Place of Hope provides such an amazing service to children that are in foster care. The healthy snack program has been a huge hit this year with our members. The Boys and Girls Club of Delray Beach serves a large group of children and families in the Delray area. They have all kinds of activities and there are so many ways that JLBR can serve. My favorite was our Day of Impact shift which included the marshmallow tower building. We had the chance to work with the kids and help them work as a team to build the highest free standing building with a marshmallow on top. The kids loved it and quite honestly, so did I!
I mentioned something above called the Day of Impact. This was our 3rd annual Day of Impact where the JLBR devotes an entire day to giving back to our local community and various nonprofits. We have shifts starting at 8am and running all day until 8pm. Instead of our usual March meeting for our members, The Day of Impact allows our members to really focus on volunteering and giving back. There are so many different shifts to chose from so there are areas of focus that appeal to member’s individuals passions and work schedules too. As the DIAD chair this year, the Day of Impact was an extra amazing experience for me. And what was our impact stats you ask?
2017 Day of Impact Results
- 390 hours complete
- 170 members participated
- 13 Nonprofits were supported
- 27 separate shifts offered
I was able to participate in so many of the different shifts and really take in the fact that we do incredibly great work in this community. I am proud to live here, to be part of this organization of outstanding women and to call them my friends! They say birds of feather flock together and I couldn’t have chosen a better flock to be a part of!