The Charles River Center is a community of several homes and facilities for both youth and adults with special needs. Amy Coran, an Activities Coordinator at the center, is always looking for projects with volunteers that provide unique experiences for the individuals she works with at the center. "I work with mostly adults, and they don't always want to do arts and crafts projects, they want the chance to do something meaningful too." She explained that the individuals at the center feel just as invested in the welfare of their community as anyone else but are most often seen as recipients and not contributors to community service.
With this in mind, Amy teamed with Temple Beth David's B'nai TELEM class (TBD) to come up with a project that would be fun, educational, interesting and meaningful for both students and Charles River residents. Back in the fall, TBD had done a service project with the Medway Family Homeless Shelter and they loved having the B'nai TELEM students there. B'nai TELEM coordinator Pam Weil discussed with Amy the idea of students and individuals at Charles River baking cookies together to donate to the shelter. What a great way for students and residents to work together and provide a needed treat for the families in need at the shelter! And who doesn't love cookies?
So with sugar and flour and eggs and chocolate whirling around the Charles River's kitchen, the baking teams got to work. By the end of the day, they had made dozens of delicious chocolate cookies to bring to the shelter. Along the way, the individuals at the center and B'nai TELEM students learned to bake, made new friends, and together made the day a lot sweeter for the Medway Shelter families.
After the project was over Amy remarked, "Today went great! The students were a delight to have and they did a wonderful job, This program is so beneficial because it not only gives the individuals here an opportunity to engage with young students but it also gives them a chance to give back to the community, something they do not usually get to do."
And in the words of a student, the lessons learned went far beyond the helping of others. "I had a lot of fun and got to know some of the people. I learned that the people here want to help others too."