Monday, November 03, 2008

Pizza night at Safe Haven

I've had plenty of time on my hands lately, due to being "set free" (I like that better than "laid off") to pursue new sources of income (e-mail me if you want to see a resume; I'm not shy). So I was glad to offer some of it to Safe Haven. This Nashville organization offers temporary housing to families who are homeless, along with training and help toward a better situation. My singles group volunteers time with the kids during a weekly class for parents, so I was there on Wednesday evening.

On Friday I dropped by the Safe Haven center and restrung a guitar that had been missing a couple of strings. There's always at least one kid who gloms onto that instrument during the time at the shelter. I mentioned to a staff member I had seen Danielle Peck, celebrity spokesperson for Safe Haven, in an especially good writers round the night before (you feel almost guilty enjoying so much great talent in Nashville, often for free--but you get over it). This is how I heard about the pizza and movie night planned for the next evening, provided by Danielle. Based on Wednesday, I suspected they might need an extra hand, and given the aforementioned wealth of time on my hands, I offered to drop by, help out, take a few pics for the website, etc. And, hey, if I got a hot tip on an industry job, so be it (I didn't). And of course I can't deny the appeal of the chance to get to know a music artist as a "real person" as opposed to the stand-in-line-to-say-hello situation after a show. And, on top of that, a free meal. So much for pure motives. But, ultimately, it's for the kids, right?

Anyway, when I got there, Danielle's mom was cooking up a batch of delicious pizza, while Danielle and her dad stood by ready to help. Danielle freely admitted that where food is concerned she's more useful in the washing up than in the preparation; I can relate. Everyone has a place to serve! I had thought it would be a pretty wild night based on Wednesday, but it turned out to be a lot quieter than I had expected; the presence of the parents made a big difference. But I made myself useful during the movie by playing with the kids that weren't so much into Indiana Jones (the dads and older boys loved it).

It's amazing how kids reveal in their playtime what they're hearing from the world around them. Like the age-inapproprate cheers the little girls did (hey, what can you do but show support and pray they learn better ones later!). But on the positive side, one little girl did a dead-on imitation of a teacher reading to her class (I was the class); and because she couldn't read yet, she made up a story based on the pictures. And then reviewed it with me when she was done: "Now, what happened here? What animal was this?" So cool. A teacher somewhere in Nashville deserves a raise; heck, most of 'em do.

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