About a year ago, two Valley moms with a desire to expose their young children to volunteering discovered that it wasn’t as easy as it sounded.
“We were both looking for volunteer opportunities that we could do as a family together,” says Alex Sklar. “We both kept running into roadblocks because our boys are young and many of the nonprofits have age restrictions.”
So Sklar and Lisa Geyser, whose two young sons are the same ages — 4 and 6 — as Sklar’s sons and attend the same schools — Congregation Beth Israel’s Chanen Preschool and Pardes Jewish Day School — decided to launch Families Giving Back.
“While we understood the challenges of working with young kids, we believed that there had to be ways that we could volunteer as a family and make a positive impact in the community,” the two wrote on the group’s Facebook page.
Since then, the organization has hosted at least two events each month. It also promotes other nonprofits in the Valley that have family-friendly volunteering opportunities. “We try to give people a comprehensive listing of all the volunteer opportunities that are out there,” Sklar says.
Recent examples include an event to stock the pantry at UMOM New Day Centers, Arizona’s largest family shelter. Families brought a bag of nonperishable items and then helped stock and organize the pantry. At Central Arizona Shelter Services (CASS), the group met at a family homeless shelter for a tour of the facility before helping to stock its pantry. Volunteers also brought books to CASS’ North 17, a CASS affordable housing complex, and read books with the children who live there and then donated the books. Family volunteers also brought flowers to Children’s First Academy, a charter school that serves homeless students primarily, as part of a beautification project.
One of their favorite projects was a game day at Kivel Campus of Care, Geyser says, where children brought in their favorite board game or puzzle and paired up with residents to play. “Both the children and the residents had such a great time,” she says.
So far, the organization has communicated primarily through Facebook but a website is in the works at familiesgivingback.org.
Families Giving Back has become a full-time effort for both mothers and although the schedule may be a little sparser during the summer, Geyser and Sklar also plan to promote at-home projects for families — such as this Saturday’s “Stamp Out Hunger” food drive coordinated through the National Association of Letter Carriers — and send out weekly enewsletters spotlighting different volunteer opportunities.