Out of all the charities I've volunteered for the Midnight Mission is by far one of my favorite. They don't make you jump through too many hoops, they just put you to work.
When I found out that they needed people to play with kids at an after school program in South Central LA I was in. I signed up for a two hour shift after work on LAWorks and drove over to the small park next to the apartment building where the kids lived.
Showing up at any new volunteering project is like showing up for the first day of a new school. Are they gonna like me, what are we going to play? I'm terrible at kick ball I hope we don't do that. I hope I'm not the last one picked.
I had lots of first days at different schools growing up, but I still get nervous wondering if any kids will want to play with me.
After a little awkward standing around a young guy named "Jack" (changed to protect little 'un), who was a bit by himself as well, decided that it would be okay to play horse shoes with me. Phew. The rest of the evening went like this:
Jack: I think I won that game of horseshoes.
Jack: Lets jump rope.
Jack: Lets draw with chalk.
Jack: I will draw a river going down the steps. You will draw fish.
Jack: Let's play tennis.
Jack: Can you swing higher than me?
Me: Probably not.
Jack: If I put this toy around your ankle can you jump it?
Jack: Nevermind let's go draw some more.
Jack and I spent the bulk of the night drawing on the sidewalk in chalk. We were joined by the other kids and they eventuallyy worked out a drawing contest. Little introvert Jack, much like little introvert me, was included in the group. Though much like me he also stepped away a bit to draw by himself.
So as not to get any little ones on film I handed them my iPhone so they could take the pictures. After a little instruction they proved to be naturals. Those are their sidewalk drawing, and Jack took the picture of me sitting cross legged on the ground on the front page.