The day started out innocently…
Last Friday, Darkness to Light staff participated in the Charleston city-wide Day of Caring sponsored by Trident United Way. This one-day event allows residents and organizations to volunteer at one of many locations throughout the community to encourage the spirit of volunteerism throughout the year.
On Friday morning, D2L team members eagerly arrived at our location – a local park recreational complex designed for children and adults with special needs. Armed with gloves, shovels, and leaf blowers, we went to work cleaning bathrooms, pruning trees and bushes, and spreading mulch, among other other tasks necessary to get the place in shape for a children’s carnival the next day.
Did we mention it was Friday the 13th?
With the sun shining and no spreadsheet in sight, the D2L crew worked happily alongside a few other organizations. Our efforts were quickly paying off, and the facility was looking great. Then, Friday the 13th struck!
While trimming a few errant tree branches, a D2L team member stepped into an underground nest filled with yellow jackets. As everyone raced away to escape the swarm, we heard a yell from the back of the facility, where another nest was discovered. Volunteers ran left and right as yellow jackets zoomed around the field.
Despite a few limitations caused by the waspish residents, stings were treated and everyone pressed on. One organization finished mulching while others continued to prune and clear debris. When we left, the park was much improved and facility management were able to take care of the issue before children arrived for Saturday’s carnival.
When it comes to protecting children, sometimes you have to step out of your comfort zone. You may need to take on tasks you’ve never done before, like getting local facilities to host a Stewards of Children training, or ensuring local youth serving organizations have child protective policies in place.
Some organizations and communities will be more receptive than others, but don’t let the sting of rejection stop you. Remember, all it takes is one interested organization or community leader to start a prevention initiative that keeps children from ever having to experience the trauma of child sexual abuse.