Why the Day of Caring proves we are ready for the Social Innovation Fund

Why the Day of Caring proves we are ready for the Social Innovation Fund

Dorothy Height quoteThursday was United Way of Lane County’s Day of Caring. Volunteers from all over the county helped out local non-profits in a variety of ways, from landscaping, to cleaning child care rooms, to creating art projects for pre-kindergarteners. We had the help of over 30 magnificent volunteers at OSLC to put together art projects for children who will be in the KITS Program next year. Volunteers cut, pasted, and tied strings on various paper plate masks, paper instruments, and mini greenhouses, for example. We are so grateful for all of their hard work!Day of Caring pic1

Listening to the conversations going on around the tables, it became clear that people had volunteered for a variety of reasons. Some were or knew educators and recognized how important kindergarten skills are to a child’s overall school success. Some had volunteered within the schools and wanted to help get children ready for the experience. Everyone was excited that what they were doing will contribute to the school readiness of children.

There was also excitement in coming together as a community to help others. Many of the volunteers talked about how gratifying it was to see so many other people working on this and other projects today. They knew that in coming together, we can reach out and improve the lives of our youngest citizens and families. It did not matter to our volunteers that they are not likely to meet or receive thanks from the children who will use these projects to learn how to cut, and count, and share with their friends. The belief that all children need to be supported to begin school with the best preparation possible was palpable in the room and kept the activity going at top speed for the entire day.

We were also very gratified to have a number of people volunteer to work for the project throughout the year. One trio decided that they will have monthly pot lucks at which they will craft for KITS. And we have already received a great deal of help from our wonderful volunteers at Pacific Continental Bank, who regularly complete projects for us. The sense of partnership and community generated by such volunteers is heartwarming.

And it strengthens my belief that Lane County is exactly the right place in which to carry out such grand projects as the Social Innovation Fund! As we have met with potential grantees at technical assistance workshops for the KITS Social Innovation Fund over the past several days, it has been exciting to hear plans for partnerships and the possibilities of forging new connections across agencies and districts. Rather than being daunted by the work that it will take to raise the matching funds and put together the programs, our community is rising to the challenge and figuring out innovative ways to make this project happen. And at the base of all of the plans are partnerships across Lane County. Seeing how well we can come together to contribute to the entire community, I am convinced that that is a solid foundation on which to build!

Katherine Pears
Dr. Katherine Pears is a senior scientist at Oregon Social Learning Center (OSLC). She earned her Ph.D in clinical psychology and has worked with OSLC since 1998. Katherine is the principal investigator and co-developer of the Kids In Transition to Schools (KITS) program. Currently, she oversees all the clinical and research activities for KITS. When she’s not in her office, you’ll find Katherine in the kitchen whipping up her latest creation or outdoors hiking a scenic trail.