My oldest turns 17 at the end of the month; my youngest will be 15 shortly after.
I am incredibly proud of my kids! I get excited for band concerts and soccer games. I share in their success with a good grade on a test and take pictures at recognition ceremonies. I am happy for them when they accomplish a goal that they set out to do, share in their disappointment if they fall short, and I always try to remind them how proud I am for trying their best.
However, I am the MOST proud of them, when I see them doing things for other people; when I see them being generous and kind; when I see them reaching out to others with whom they have little in common and not only being respectful, but having fun and personally growing in the process.
I have seen one son volunteer at an education center with children in Eastern Henrico. I have seen one son volunteer at a soccer summer camp for low income kids, and play basketball as a “buddy” with children and young adults with special needs. I see the impact volunteering has on THEM. They enjoy it! It opens their eyes to the needs of others and the challenges that so many people face. And they learn that all people are deserving of kindness and respect, regardless of color of skin, and income level, and abilities.
This past weekend I witnessed the finale of the Deep Run Marathon Dance, in which my 9th grader had participated. This 27 hour student-led event raises money for 12 local charities. There were so many incredible organizations that benefitted from this, but one that really stood out to me was a camp for under-served youth of metro Richmond. A woman from this organization addressed the parents and participants about the camp’s mission. Her first word was “18” – indicating the mere number of miles from where we were sitting to the place where the camp attendees lived. The gym was silent.
When the Marathon was over, and my exhausted son was getting in the car to go home, he wasn’t talking about the fun he had had with his friends, or the actual “dancing.” What impacted him the MOST was a little girl from that camp who came up to him at the very end, hugged his leg, and said “thank you!”
As a parent, I tend to get wrapped up in the truly insignificant stresses of raising children – homework, grades, sporting events, and busy schedules. In my year with KnowDifferent, and my connection to the special needs community, my eyes have been opened to the challenges that so many face. It has made me realize that there are so many more important things to life – like being kind and respectful.
Kindness, generosity and respect are what I hold to be my sons’ greatest gifts! They make me so proud to be their mom!
Tricia Greene is KNOWDifferent’s Community Outreach Coordinator, she relocated to RVA from Austin, Texas in 2012 and is married with two teenage boys and a sweet, yet quirky dog. In her free time, she enjoys photography, reading, travel, art, and attending her kids’ soccer games and band concerts. Tricia has degrees from Boston College and The University of Texas at Austin, and has a background in Social Work, with experience in the areas of community development, parenting education, and counseling at-risk youth.