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The ‘village’ we’ve been looking for is in volunteer parents

Stephanie Ortiz

This week, I arrived early to pick up my seven year old from soccer practice. I watched the coach cheer the girls on as he taught a new skill. The girls smiled as they ran. My daughter’s coach is the father of one of the players and he filled an unexpected coaching vacancy at the very beginning of the season. After working all day, he hits the field with energy and enthusiasm. He willingly took on the responsibility of coaching so that our girls could enjoy a full season. I thank him for not only for allowing my daughter to continue playing soccer, but also for modeling through his example how enjoyable it is.

My son was fortunate enough to have been coached for several years by the same two men. Both of these fathers were not only great technical coaches, but also men of upstanding character. They were kind, patient, & courteous, both on and off the field. His new coach this year is of the same ilk— teaching my son not only how to play soccer well, but how to play it with dignity and excellent sportsmanship.

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One of my daughters has been in the same Girl Scout troop since kindergarten, led by two extraordinary women. Both of these women are extremely busy with their own jobs, homes, and families, yet have spent countless hours planning wonderful outings and activities for the troop. For years, they have coordinated every aspect of the troop’s activities, and have selflessly served as excellent role models for each and every girl. They have encouraged and inspired my daughter in ways that I cannot describe. I cannot even fathom just how much time leading the troop has required through the years, but I know that I can never thank them enough for the gift that their efforts have been for my daughter.

And how about those PTA parents? I will sheepishly admit that despite being a card-carrying member of our school’s PTA, I don’t typically participate in their activities. But I am in awe of what the parents (and no, not just mothers, but fathers, too) plan for our kids. From the book fairs, science nights, holiday parties, clothing drives, to the impeccably coordinated sixth grade dances… these parents are in the trenches for my children (and yours!), dedicating hours of their time to planning, decorating, and executing wonderful events that add so much excitement to our children’s school experience.

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As a mother of six children, maintaining my weekly schedule can be daunting at times. In addition to the usual meals, homework, and household routine, a good part of my time is also spent shepherding my kids to and from their various activities. Despite being busy with their own households, jobs, and families, these adults selflessly take on additional responsibilities for children’s enjoyment and enrichment. These are just a few examples of adults in my children’s lives that have selflessly devoted themselves to tasks that many of us feel too tired, too busy, or too overwhelmed to think of doing ourselves. I thank those that willingly offer up their limited “free” time in the interests of not only their own children, but other children as well.

Thank you for encouraging my children, for instructing them, and for believing in them. Thank you for being adults that ALL of our children can look up to and want to emulate. Your compassion and self-sacrifice are invaluable.

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