I began volunteering with Horizons for Homeless Children for two simple reasons: I love being around kids and was thrilled to find an opportunity to give back that fell outside of work hours. I remember seeing the ad on the T with the tag line “And you thought two hours at the gym was good for your heart…”. Six years and hundreds of hours later, I couldn’t agree more!
I’ve been a PAL (Playspace Activity Leader) with Horizons since 2012. Every week, my fellow PALs and I play hide and seek, “cook” in the kitchen, construct lego towers, build train tracks and make play-doh sculptures at a family shelter in East Boston. The kids make us laugh (a lot) and every once in awhile we get a glimpse into the hardships their families face and our hearts break for them.
Playspaces are child-friendly rooms that Horizons has installed in more than 90 partner shelters across the state of Massachusetts. They are created to give children a dedicated place to play and grow, and build connections with other caring adults who are committed to their success. Each Playspace has two-hour volunteer shifts that occur throughout the week. These shifts are often scheduled in conjunction with financial literacy classes, parenting classes, case management meetings, and other programming that parents need, but are often unable to attend without this support.
The Playspace Program is only one part of Horizons’ mission. The organization also runs three early education centers located in Roxbury, Dorchester, and Jamaica Plain. Every Horizons classroom has a bilingual teacher and support staff that is specially trained to address the unique circumstances homeless children face. While the children are in the classroom, Horizons’ Family Advocates work closely with parents to help get them back on their feet by providing services ranging from parenting and financial literacy classes to connections with educational opportunities.
Please consider donating to join me in supporting Horizons’ mission to improve the lives of young homeless children in Massachusetts and help their families succeed by providing high-quality early education, opportunities for play, and comprehensive family support services.
I am looking forward to running my first marathon as a member of the Horizons team. I am inspired by the resilience and positivity shown by kids who have so many cards stacked against them and will use that to fuel my training!