Time flies when you’re having fun: A cliché that I find painfully true as I finish my year as a parent advisor for the Jamestown Middle School Builders Club and my son finishes his 3rd year as a Builder. It has been a busy year and I find myself with mixed emotions, “How did I find myself in this position?” and “What next?” To answer these questions, I’ll take you back 3 years to my introduction to the Builders Club.
6th grade, the first year of middle school for my only child was an exciting and scary time for both of us. At an elementary school of approximately 450 kids, My son was a big fish in a small pond. Moving on to Jamestown Middle School with an enrollment of over 1200 students put him into the role of little fish in a big pond, a feeling I remembered from my junior high days. Watching this “little kid” walk into middle school was frightening. Within a few weeks, I received an e-mail that changed our middle school experience. Jamestown Middle School would have a service club called the Builders Club, sponsored by the Gate City Kiwanis. Hmmm, that sounded interesting. As a “Terrific Kid” recipient in elementary school, I was somewhat familiar with Kiwanis but wanted to learn more, so it was off to the computer to read about Kiwanis International. I loved what I read, “Changing the world, one child and one community at a time”. Having already been introduced to the need for service, my son was excited about the mission of Builders Club, so he joined. During his 6th grade year, I would pick him up from after school meetings and hear more about the club. He collected money for UNICEF, rang bells with the Gate City Kiwanis and the Salvation Army, made cards for troops serving overseas and much more. He was learning great things alongside wonderful mentors and he was loving it. I could see him growing in confidence as the year went by.
Imagine my surprise when, this once shy boy, decided to run for 7th grade representative and later for the office of vice-president of the Builders Club during his 8th grade year. What an amazing transformation! I wanted others to experience what he had. The club was losing their parent advisor, as her daughter was moving on to high school, so I became the parent advisor the next year.
I knew I would be busy, but what surprised me most, was the relationships I made with the students, especially the incoming 6th graders. I watched them come to the meetings, wide eyed and nervous just as my son must have been at his first meeting, but as we started working together on service projects immediately, the nervousness melted away.
During the 2009-2010 year, the Jamestown Middle School Builders Club completed 16 service projects, donated hundreds of dollars to charity and won 3 international awards (1st place in Scrapbook, 2nd place for their PR book and my son was once again named as an International Leadership Award Recipient). Our club also earned the designation of Distinguished Club. We had a very busy year, and along the way, I saw those 6th graders begin to mature and become more confident in themselves. I am so proud of them.
On Saturday, May 22, 2010 thirteen of our Builders Club members along with our teacher advisor, three Gate City Kiwanis club members and two parents took on our last service project of the year at the Horsepower Student Ride-A-Thon. Horsepower is a therapeutic equestrian program for those with physical, mental, emotional and social disabilities. Their Ride-A-Thon is a fund raising event and a chance for their riders to show off the skills they’ve learned through the program. Our Builders help the Ride-A-Thon by providing financial support and manpower by running games, the concession stand and basically doing whatever they can to make the day a great experience for the disabled riders. I recently learned that with our help (and the help of others), Horsepower raised $15,500! The funds will help reduce the overall program expense and in doing so, Horsepower will be able to offer all of their students a reduced fee and for those in need, riding at no charge.
While at the Ride-A-Thon making my rounds, I sat down with a 6th grader, Brandon; as he took a break and watched the riders perform. “You know Miss McLamb, I’ve never done anything like this before”, he told me. “I didn’t know people with disabilities could do something like this, they’re doing great. I’m glad we’re doing this”. I watched this young man grow throughout the year and develop as a young man through service to the point that he is running for the office of Builders Club president. Amazing!
What’s next? My son is moving to high school next year and will be in the Key Club and I have decided to become an official member of the Gate City Kiwanis Club. I wonder sometimes what type of impact I may have had on these young men and women and if they’ll remember me in years to come. Knowing this group, I have no doubt that I’ll be hearing about the wonderful things they’ll be doing in the future. In the spirit of Kiwanis, if I made a difference to just one of these children, it will be worth it!