A Little Time Goes a Long Way
SMPS is much more than an organization providing marketing resources and networking opportunities; it also provides outreach initiatives allowing us to give back to our communities. Most everyone has intended to volunteer at one time or another. Then life happens, and we do not always find time to contribute. As a member of the SMPS DC PR & Comms Committee, I receive weekly editorial updates from Kyle Veater, the committee Director, regarding upcoming events and announcements. One morning I was reminded about the annual Family Dinner volunteer event at The Children’s Inn. After preparing and posting the announcement on twitter (@smpsdc), I paused and thought why not? I checked my calendar, saw I was free, then promptly committed to supporting the cause.
In its 26th year, The Children’s Inn continues to provide a 24-hour ‘like-home’ therapeutic living environment for families with children undergoing treatment at the National Institute of Health. The Inn’s nonprofit mission—to reduce the burden of medical treatment and facilitate healing—provides relief and joy to those suffering from chronic illness. Several SMPS volunteers were able to share in this joy through our sponsorship. This special night offers families a couple of hours to relax and eat together while our team serves up dinner…with a side of entertainment, of course.
Prior to their arrival, we sprinkled animal-shaped confetti, trinkets and toys atop the tables, and colorful jungle-themed centerpieces with playful lions, tigers, and monkeys. Once settled in from the build-a-burrito line, families talked and laughed together throughout the room. Their ease brought a smile to my face. Realizing that my worst day doesn’t compare to the heartache of their best, I resisted the urge to give each and every kid a giant hug. Instead I cleared their plates, and announced the piñata party would begin shortly. And just as my eyes did when I was a wee little thing, theirs lit up with excitement!
The perfect location to set up the candy-filled giraffe was spotted below the two-level wrapped stair. We then corralled the kiddos as they slid about in their socks, and eagerly surrounded the target. In order of height, they took their turns. Amongst the anticipation it was clear only one thought was in mind…to bust open the piñata. We cheered for each, and they excitedly received a high-five for effort. The tallest in line reveled in the prized moment when the candy flew about the crowd. Pockets were stuffed, and chatter ensued.
The attention soon passed from the hollowed giraffe to the pup-in-residence, Zilly, as the children gathered to celebrate the labradoodle’s second birthday. The evening concluded with endless thanks and appreciation from the families. On my way home I reflected on how much I gained that evening; most importantly the reminder that no matter how challenging life can be, sharing a spoonful of love and laughter can make all the difference in the world. Helping others is free, and we all can spare the time to help put a smile in the hearts of others. Next time you see a volunteer opportunity through the many SMPS DC social media feeds, I encourage you to check your calendars and participate. You won’t regret it, the benefits far outweigh the time commitment. And besides, you’ll be sharing these experiences with an amazing group of your fellow marketers.
For more information on volunteer opportunities or how to support The Children’s Inn, please visit: http://childrensinn.org/get-innvolved/
The preceding was authored by Jennifer Trezza, a member of SMPS DC’s PR/Communications Committee and the Director of Marketing & Communications at WDG Architecture.