“Whew, it’s over without any happening!” I let out a sigh of relief when the party ended. It was a barbecue party for Japanese Support Group at Parents Helping Parents (PHP-J) in middle of May. Before, the turnout had usually been about 40 people. This year, however, the number of participating families had gone up everyday until it finally counted 25 families. This was mainly because we had changed the party site to a more convenient location. Including volunteers, the total turnout would be neary 120 people, making the party a huge event.
Although I got a bit nervous for a moment, there was no need to worry. We have a strong network of helpers. Not only genuine volunteers, but also many of the members are very willing to help. Members are the parents of children with disabilities. Everybody tries to do what they can do as much as they can. If they can’t, there is another opportunity to help. All the jobs were done with splendid team work; ranging from making reservations for the site, getting lunch ingredients ready and shopping, to the day’s work, including setting up, ushering, sign-ins, accounting, barbecuing, arranging food, looking after children, recreation activities, clean-up and so on.
This year we tried a few new things. First, a team of super moms was formed. They ran all over the town to ask for donations, ending up with a whole lot of merchandise and gift cards donated, drastically cutting down the cost for the party. Thanks to this, we were able to reduce the fee we were to collect from participating families. I cannot thank them enough!!
Second, a new group of promising volunteers joined us this time from a Japanese middle school (Nihon-go Hoshu-ko). We mainly asked the students and their parents to look after children with disabilities. Later, to my delight, they kindly said it was a good experience to spend some time with the kids. Even children who are dependent on others’ support can give something to others. This is what I always have in mind and it was the day that reassured me that I was right.
Lastly, we had ordered T-shirts with the PHP logo for the first time. Again, this was made possible by the help of members and volunteers. Yellow for kids, blue for those who had some kind of job at the party, and purple for K-san and me, the facilitators of the group. Even those with disabilities or their siblings wore blue T-shirts as long as they were willing to help. It was very moving to see them actively involved as part of the group. I’m pretty much sure that the T-shirts played an important role to strengthen the bond of the group.
I was so busy around the time, but all the efforts have been well rewarded with the pictures of the kids with big smiles. “Wow, they are really having fun!” Right now, PHP-J activities are taking short breaks during summer, which is kind of refeshing to me. We will be in full swing again in fall!! (^o^)/