One of the groups in Practice III completed their second community project today. We were in Riverside for the morning. One of the members had enlisted the help of the Iota Phi Theta fraternity and the Sigma Gamma Rho sorority. We opened our boundaries to add some new resources the the system.All of the students solicited donations as well as bought items themselves, and they had a great treasure chest full of prizes for activities. Rhonda was able to obtain donations from the Hernando Wal-Mart, where she works. Another great example of inputs: locating resources in the community.
April's husband, Alex, is a police officer assigned to the unit, and he grilled the hot dogs for us. Another resource for the system. The children were lining up for the first activity--a treasure egg hunt. We had plastic eggs filled with candy or gum. We even had baby dinosaur eggs, Captain Nemo eggs, and baseball, football, basketball, and soccer eggs. The treasure egg had two gold leaves in it.
This young woman was obviously happy that her egg had the gold leaves--grand prize was a $25 gift card to Wal-Mart.
The group after the treasure egg hunt. We had a few late arrivals who missed the "hunt" but the group members made up bags of eggs for them so that everyone attending had some. An example of equifinality: we start in different places, but end up with the same outcome.
Dorothy assisted Hanna in learning how to work the bubble wand. It is always exciting for me to see the kids who were just babies or toddlers when I started working at Riverside, and see how they have matured and developed new skills. I stopped in to say hello to Hanna's mom as well. Tamara was one of the moms who was always so supportive and helpful when we first began to work there with the tutoring project back in 2005.
Another one of the guys who has grown a lot: Biggie was really a tiny little thing when we first began the work there. Here, he waits his turn for face painting.
Everyone lined up to play musical chairs--one of their all-time favorites. I think every group who has ever gone to Riverside has played it and the kids never tire of it.
B G finally had to get in the middle to be able to judge more accurately.
Getting ready for the Balloon Pop.
Ashley s-l-o-w-l-y painting a mask for a young woman. We told her it was a good thing she did not get "paid by the piece" as she would never earn very much.
One of the Sigma Gamma Rho sisters showing off her art work.
After painting, spoon races, bunny hop, balloon pop, musical chairs and lots of prizes being given out, it was time for hot dogs. Yet another resource for the physical needs of the system.
After plenty of hot dogs, chips, and home made chocolate chip and sugar cookies (thanks, Ashley!) the Iota brothers did 3 step-dance routines. Kristen's 18 month old, Lawrence, began to imitate them, but I had put the camera aside to get contact information from the Iota brothers and Sigma sisters. They offered to help out with other community work we did in the future: more resources for the system!
After a fun morning, with absolutely perfect weather, we cleaned up and headed our separate ways. I may have just a little bias when it comes to Riverside as I love the kids and going there. I miss our being there as much as we used to, and the kids miss us. I saw another mom, Stacy, who is always so kind to express her appreciation for our work with the community.
I am always going on and on to the class about the importance of balancing task with process. It is easy to get task focused and forget that group members have socio-emotional needs, and that understanding the process and building good group dynamics is essential to having a group that is successful. Well, this group has finally figured it out! They understood and demonstrated use of the process to produce a successful task outcome. Not only had they gone all out to use each other's strengths to accomplish the task and in an inspiring way, they had done so with little disruption in their group dynamics. Even this morning, their dynamics were flowing so smoothly: good communication and interaction, evident cohesion, appropriate social norms, and a group culture begging to be acknowledged.
When I see a group in the class finally come together in becoming the "it" of the group--where the group is more important than anything else--it always gives me a sense of hopefulness. This group is in differentiation: mutual aid, and getting ready to transfer this learning outside of their own group and into the work they will do in the future. When I see us: black and white, younger and older, new folks we did not know and people with whom we have long-standing relationships all coming together in a common purpose, having fun, and making a difference in service at the same time, I just won't give up that we have the capacity and ability to change our communities and to build nurturing and strong places in which our children can grow up.