Molly Emerson, a long time ANEW Place volunteer, is sure to always have two key accessories to complete every outfit; a smile and a helping hand. Kindness, helping others, and self reflection are the cornerstones of the teaching method that she uses in her classroom. Ms. Emerson, as she’s known to her 2nd grade class, decided to bring along a component of compassion and community awareness to her class’s Valentine’s Day celebration by creating Hearts of Encouragement for our guests at ANEW.
“I opened the project with a video called ‘Peace of My Heart Project’. I had seen it a few weeks prior and was so inspired that I decided to bring it to the classroom.”
“The kids and I talked about how the video made them feel, how they thought the people in the video might have felt getting a note of encouragement, and how we could use this to brighten up, not only someone’s Valentine’s Day, but the many days to follow.”
Many of the kids didn’t necessarily understand why the folks at ANEW were homeless but even at their young age, it was easy for them to grasp that it is a very serious issue.
“In order to make the idea of the shelter more tangible for them, we related it to the support they get in school. Everyone needs help now and then and this is how the homeless adults at ANEW are getting the help they need. Just like we build a family at school, ANEW builds a family at the shelter.”
The hearts are displayed on the chalkboard in the kitchen at ANEW Place. Guests, volunteers, staff, and community members walk by them every day and the words in the hearts have become a mantra of sorts for our community.
“You are awesome”, “Be Kind”, and a personal staff favorite “I like how you sparkle” have been worked into our days. These caring 2nd graders and their engaged teacher gave us the gentle reminder that we are awesome, we should always be kind and that we all have a special spark.