IDEAS’ ideas about volunteering at the Coalition

"Coalition for the Homeless"

IDEAS Orlando is an Orlandobased innovation studio specializing in creative entertainment, learning, and marketing. IDEAS often serves dinner at Coalition for the Homeless’ Women’s Residential and Counseling Center. Shirley Decker, EVP, Business Development, was kind enough to share her thoughts on the team’s experiences. Thanks IDEAS Orlando!

It starts with an e-mail to the staff from Charles…he shares the date that we will, once again, have the opportunity to work with the staff at the Women’s Residential and Counseling Center (WRCC).  The responses vary each time we decide to host dinner for the women and children currently residing at WRCC.  Some of our staff opt for contributing financially and others like to actually serve. Of course, there are those team members who do both.  For the core of our team, serving is something we look forward to because each visit is as unique as the menu we select.

We have the “specialists” who do the shopping, those who are best at prepping the meal once we arrive, and of course, those who are skilled servers because they have a smile and good word to share.  One can’t forget the social butterflies who volunteer to deliver trays to the moms who have more little hands to hold onto than they can handle along with food – a real balancing act.  That is really the primo position, where you learn the stories and have a chance to interact with the kids.  We’ve learned over the many times we’ve served that a hot meal and dessert are a really big hit.  In the past, we also added to the evening by preparing sandwiches for the mom’s and kid’s lunches the next day.

A few weeks ago, Caroline got an idea to celebrate National Pie Day by having us all bake pies. The best part was to bake two pies – one for judging and to share with the staff, and one to take to the WRCC for the families to enjoy. That was great fun!

One of our newest interns decided to join us at WRCC last time. The experience was so moving for her that she is going to organize her study group at college to have them participate in the future.  This is the reaction that comes from volunteering in your community – a sense of well-being from knowing that you are doing something for someone else that is truly appreciated. There’s also an awareness of other people’s situations and, no matter how they came about, you can do something that makes a difference.  The experience is a wonderful bonding agent for the group to work together as a unit to complete a goal, as well.

I’m proud of the team I work with.  Not everyone is the “spark plug” with the ideas to motivate, but most people will follow for a good reason.  Thank you, WRCC, for letting us be part of your lives!