This past summer my son (Bayne) and I were introduced to Side by Side Kids (SBSK) was through Young Men's Service League (YMSL). YMSL encourages young men and their mothers to pursue philanthropic involvement in their community and provides an opportunity to enhance mother/son relationships. Looking at all of the opportunities we had to volunteer, my son and I decided SBSK would be a perfect fit. Bayne wants to be a pediatrician so working with the kids made sense. Also, YMSL mothers strive to serve "side by side" with their sons - so, our missions seemed similar.
Our first time volunteering with SBSK, Bayne walked away saying, “That was THE most rewarding volunteer opportunity I’ve ever had!” He was really taken aback from the whole experience. From watching Bayne lead in the group to seeing him interact and engage in a different way - it’s a side of him I don’t get to see very often. In the group activities, Bayne was really taking the lead in the plays. As a parent, it’s outside of what I normally see him do. It’s a different and fun perspective. Another unique opportunity was being able to problem-solve with Bayne when different issues popped up with the group of kids. When one kid was off to the side I was able to suggest different ideas to include them. Bayne's still a teenage boy – so it was nice to see him take my advice! It was also neat to see him really connect with a couple boys that day in particular. Bayne really connected with one little boy and said on our way home, “He doesn't know how smart he is! He's energetic and fun, and I know he’s really going places! He’s such a great kid!”
Our second time volunteering with Side by Side Kids, Bayne noticed some of the kids were extra shy. When Bayne started speaking in Spanish with them, those shyer kids immediately opened up to him. He was able to break down some of the barriers, making them more comfortable. That was a really touching moment to watch as a parent! Bayne has come away both times loving every minute of it. It’s a great opportunity.
If you haven't already, you should absolutely volunteer with Side by Side Kids! It’s both rewarding and enlightening. We are all very busy but when you have a day with the kids everything slows down a little bit. You have to focus and other things become less important. That’s probably why we have enjoyed it as much as we have. When you get there nothing else matters. Teaching, fellowship, games or whatever you’re doing with the kids, that’s what’s truly important. I think that’s why anybody should do anything like this... it makes a difference in our lives AND those we serve. It helps us engage with others we normally wouldn’t. It’s always a good thing to be exposed to different people.